An interesting report was released a few months ago examining male and female giving patterns. I was eager to read it, hoping it might point to some new ideas in who should be on the guest lists for our benefit auctions.
Here’s the background.
In October 2010, The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University released its first report called “Women Give 2010.” It reported differences in giving to charity between male and female single-headed households across income levels. (Remember, this is single-headed households.)
The report showed that in every income level — from $23,509 all the way up to $103,000 — females were more likely to give to charity.
Not only were they more likely to give, but in every income group sans one, they would give more (almost twice as much).
In December 2010, a second report was published. This new data looked at the same data set, but asked another question: Do men and women give to the same types of causes?
The research found that female-headed households give to five causes more significantly than others. The five “winners” were:
- Health care
- Youth and family
In some cases, the differences were substantial. For instance, single-headed female households are over 50% more likely than single-headed male households to support international and community causes.
That’s pretty big.
And it begs the question:
If you’re running a nonprofit that focuses on international programs or community services, should you invite primarily women to attend your benefit auction?
First, the study wasn’t looking at givers at benefit auctions; the research studied single-headed households.
Because benefit auctions are often evening social affairs where “couples” are encouraged to attend, women and men in this study might be less likely to attend a benefit auction, unless they have a significant other with whom to attend. I know of people — and I bet that you do, too — who feel uncomfortable attending social affairs without a date.
Second, my general observation (though certainly not true all the time) is that men bid more often in a live auction while women more often in the silent auction. (As a side, e-bidding devices seem to attract to men in the silent auction.)
This study doesn’t tell us in what manner the money was donated, but merely the total giving. For instance, was it donated in a lump sum in a check? Did the giver make twelve equal monthly installments? Did the donor buy items — or donate cash — at a benefit auction gala or other special event?
We don’t know, so continue to invite everyone. 🙂
Preach your mission. Tell your story. Plan an engaging benefit auction that both sexes enjoy. Watch what happens.