Not your grandmother’s “egg money”

Over the past several decades, fundraisers have been encouraged to remember the ladies in their solicitation strategies. And for good reason. As the number of women attending college, pursuing careers, and starting businesses has increased, so has their ability to make substantial gifts.


An article from the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog reports that

Currently, North American women control approximately $13.2 trillion dollars. By 2026, North American women alone could give one trillion dollars annually if they collectively gave 1.7 percent of their wealth. And in the next 40 years, women will inherit more than 70 percent of the $41 trillion dollars in expected intergenerational wealth transfer.

In other words, we’re not talking about our (great)grandmothers’ gifts of egg money, as precious as small gifts were then and remain so now.

If the widow’s mite is how you think about women’s giving, think again. Philanthropy by women has come a long way in a relatively short time.

So how do you tap into the enhanced giving capacity of women donors?

According to Jessica Houssian, author of the SSIR piece, “creating meaningful relationships with female funders requires the same skills you need to be an effective fundraiser in general.” This is good news for folks in over-whelmed and understaffed development offices – the norm for small to mid-size nonprofits.

There’s no new programming required, just a commitment to do better what you should already be doing.


1: Know your donor. Ask her questions about the impact she wants her gift to have on the world and on herself and then really listen to and learn from the answers. Don’t make assumptions.

2: Help her learn from you. Help your donors understand how your work works. Offer your donor experiences that she can’t have without you.

3: Help her find a community. Collaboration enables donors to pursue more ambitious agendas, build strategic solutions, and give at higher levels.

4: Share stories as well as statistics.  More often than not, a single story changes people’s hearts and minds, and moves them to act. Statistics by themselves don’t do it.

5: Give her time. For many women, philanthropy is less about recognition and visibility, and more about building relationships, achieving a deep understanding of what their gift will do, and the impact the journey has on her life.

6: Focus on your pipeline. If your potential donor falls in love with your work at 25, she’s probably stay with you for the long haul. Help her grow her leadership and her giving will follow.

7: Engage your donor’s skills, experience, and talent.

8: Frame your “ask” as an opportunity for your funder. In other words, let the ask be an invitation for your donor to make her money matter in a new way—as a powerful tool for good, for safety, health, equality, the arts, or whatever it is you do.

10: Don’t judge. Your relationship should feel safe and supportive so that the door remains open for her to reconsider giving in the future.

There’s no guarantee that following Houssian’s advice will result in an avalanche of six and seven-figure gifts. But I can promise this: Put her ten tips at the center of your fundraising efforts and support for your organization will increase. Even better, hearts (those of men as well as women) will grow ever more generous.

For more on women as givers and askers, see:

Isn’t that just like a woman?

In fundraising, as in life, variety is the spice

Two century-old wisdom from the second Mrs. Judson



  1. Thank you very much for Generous Matters and indeed, it does! Your articles are appreciated!

  2. It’s great to hear from you, Pam, and all the more so knowing that you are committed to growing women’s hearts, including through their giving.

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