Current fundraising practices often only focus on the treasure – what is a donor’s capacity to give? When we expand the definition of philanthropy beyond Treasure to also include Time, Talent, Ties, and Testimony, we increase our number of supporters and leaders, especially women.
More fundraising leaders are embracing inclusion and want to train their teams on diversity, equity and inclusion. But are we adapting our actions by applying a DE&I lens to our advancement practices? Williams College and William & Mary demonstrated success when they adopted inclusive fundraising strategies. Now the philanthropy sector must develop new skills and change behaviors to achieve similar long-term results.
The movement to grow women’s philanthropy is not meant to focus only on one profile of women who give. Women’s philanthropy includes ALL those who identify as women. It is intended to be inclusive. Yet current language and actions by those who identify as white cisgender women leaders in this movement – including myself – may not be making inclusivity clear. We unconsciously may be perpetuating a system of racism and gender inequity.
It is on us to create diverse women’s philanthropy councils. Now. Women of color are the most underrepresented of all groups on boards. Women of color and women of different generations have voices and perspectives to add regarding how they give and want to be engaged. By including men on our councils, they can leverage their platforms and share their power, making them valuable contributors and allies to grow women’s philanthropy. Wider diversity will help our councils make better decisions and grow philanthropy. This takes attention, intention, asking stakeholders for help, and adapting your model when needed, to be successful.
The uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic has seemingly brought back an outdated pattern in fundraising that assumes or downplays what women can do, causing fundraisers to hesitate to intentionally engage women stakeholders. We’ve heard from women that they want to be heard, respected, asked for their opinion. When this occurs, they give in many ways.
We know that women organize quickly to offer support in a crisis. It’s natural to want to activate them now during the coronavirus response, but first we must pause, listen, then pace out a strategy.
Women aren’t harder to fundraise from, just different, in how they prefer to give. Change your narrative and your approach to engage them more effectively.
A book club could help you engage staff, leadership, and volunteers to grow women’s philanthropy by creating structured learning, an opportunity to evaluate current practices and share new ideas, and incentive to shift behaviors and strategies.
If we want women to give generously to our organizations, the first impression we make matters. Does your organization’s public face suggest that women’s offerings of time, money and leadership are welcomed and valued?
When we’re under pressure, it is normal to revert to what we’ve done successfully before. When a woman doesn’t respond as anticipated and, in fact, asks more questions, gives less than asked or doesn’t agree to be on a board, we turn and focus on those who do respond in the way we prefer. But we risk sub-optimizing what this woman might give us after she is satisfied with her due diligence.