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  Understanding the Increasing Affluence of Women Potpourri

Canadian FundRaiserGeneration XMY NICHOLS’ WORTH
Judith E. Nichols, Ph.D., CFRE

The American Association of Fundraising Council Trust for Philanthropy estimates that women’s charitable giving has increased by more than $15 billion since 1996. Yet, most organizations still focus their fundraising efforts more heavily on men.

Globally, women's economic power is soaring. Women make 80 percent of all buying decisions around the world. In the United States, for example:

• American women by themselves are, in effect, the largest national” economy on earth, larger than the entire (!) Japanese economy.
• Over the past three decades (1970-1998), men’s median income barely budged (+0.6 percent after adjusting for inflation), while women’s has soared +63 percent.
•Women bring in half or more of the household income in the majority of the United States.
•Women control 51.3 percent of the private wealth in the United States.
•Women control most of the spending in the household - about 80 percent.
Still not convinced? In The Power of the Purse: How Smart Businesses Are Adapting to the World’s Most Important Consumer -- Women, (Pearson/Prentice Hall 2006), author Fara Warner asserts that:

    • Women account for more than 50 percent of all stock ownership in the United States. By 2010, women will account for half the private wealth in the country, or about $14 trillion. By 2020, you can expect that number to reach $22 trillion as wealth continues to shift from men to women.
    • When women and men of equal education, abilities, and similar social status are compared, the pay disparity disappears. Those women make as much as, if not more than, their male counterparts. Forty-one percent of the 3.3 million Americans with incomes exceeding $500,000 are women.
    • Women control or influence 67 percent of household investment decisions. Forty-three percent of Americans with $500,000 or more in investable assets are women.
    • Women control 48 percent of estates worth more than $5 million.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. The largest wealth transfer in history is about to take place as the Baby Boomers inherit from their parents. In turn, because women generally outlive their husbands, the family assets will become concentrated in the hands of Boomer women. Older women are increasingly single. There are fourteen million single women older than 55 compared to only 4 million single men. Moreover, most women marry older men. As a result, nearly half of elderly women are widowed, compared with just l4 percent of elderly men.

In addition, there is a trend towards later marriages and reduced child bearing. In l960, 72% of women ages 20 to 24 were married. Today, 61% are not. The drop among those having babies is greater yet: 54% were mothers 30 years ago; now just 28% are. And, among high‑achieving women,  60 percent of executive women have no children (compared to 3 percent of their male counterparts) The combination of postponed or no marriage, increased education, and a commitment to a career rather than work, has enabled women to establish independence from their families. By  taking their  labor out of the delivery room  and  into  the marketplace women  have set in place a dramatic  change  in  our society, the consequences of which will affect everyone  ‑‑  men and women, adults and children.

Changing attitudes are propelling women into the ranks of business owners and top company leadership positions. More women are prepared to run companies than ever before, since millions of them have progressed through the ranks in fields that were once male dominated. As today's senior (male) executives retire, 50% of the next group of managers are women. While the infamous gap between men's and women's earnings persists and the glass ceiling that blocks women's rise to senior management remains stubbornly shatterproof, nearly 90% of the 3,l00 women the Conference Board surveyed in the mid-1990s said their prospects were better than those of their mothers. Two-thirds said they were much better.

Women entrepreneurs are often motivated differently from men entrepreneurs: according to the Avon Report, female entrepreneurs are more likely to be concerned with issues of happiness/self-fulfillment (38%), achievement/challenge (30%), and helping others (20%) than monetary rewards (12%).
Increasingly, women will control the vast majority of philanthropic projects as they are given control of those projects after their husband’s deaths and/or choose charitable priorities of their own.

To reach women effectively requires a strategy. You must constantly reexamine your target group, as attitudes, values, and lifestyles are in flux for many women. There is more variety among women of similar age groups. Recognize that women are not a homogeneous group. Segment out groupings of particular interest to your not-for-profit.
The late thirties through mid forties are often a time of reevaluation which can signal changes in priorities. For example, many women in their forties are beginning to recognize the need for financial planning for retirement and are receptive to looking at planned giving vehicles.
When you show women in brochures, newsletters and appeals, know whom you want to attract. The message, "I belong", will only work when the role models parallel how a woman feels about herself or wishes to perceive herself as being similar  to.  If your audience is the mature widow who has inherited money, your photographs must show a background of home and family. Dress is more formal; makeup subdued. If your appeal is aimed at the career woman ‑‑ self‑made, probably younger and possibly never‑married ‑‑ your photograph should use an active background of office or a travel setting.  Your model’s dress should be either a business suit or leisure clothing.  Include a cell phone, ipod, and laptop computer: large numbers of younger, single women are inner‑directed experientials with a fascination for gadgets.

Recognize that personality -- far more so than income, age or marital or career status -- determines a woman's financial decisions. Women who display assertiveness, openness to change, an adventurous spirit and an optimistic outlook are more likely than others to set specific financial goals, save and invest regularly, make retirement planning a priority and educate themselves about money management.
To honor the contributions women have made throughout history, the month of March was declared "Women's History Month" in 1987. Use this as a gentle reminder to review your gender development strategy.


While Stanford University economist Edward Lazear predicts that 20% of CEOs in top organizations will be women in 15 to 20 years, increasing numbers of women are refusing to play the career-advancement game. According to Catherine Hakim, a sociologist at the London School of Economics, only 20% of women in Britain and Spain consider themselves "work-centered" - making their careers a primary focus of their lives and would work even if they didn't have to as contrasted with 55% of men.  "Where are the Women?", Linda Tischler, Fast Company, February 2004.

Last year there were nearly 10.6 million U.S. children whose mothers stayed at home, up 13 percent in less than a decade. Experts credit the increase to the economic boom of the late 1990s, the cultural influence of America's growing Hispanic population and the entry into parenthood of a generation of latchkey kids. Of the 41.8 million kids under 15 who lived with two parents last year, about a fourth of them - 10.4 million - had mothers who stayed home, according to U.S. Census estimates based on a March 2002 survey. In 1994, about 9.4 million children lived in that situation, or about 23 percent of the total. Full-time stay-at-home dads took care of 189,000 children in 2002, up 18 percent from 1994.

More and more women are choosing “singlehood” – a growing trend among women both in the U.S. and in countries such as Japan. In 2001, 50 percent of Japanese women aged 30 were still unmarried, compared to 37 percent in the U.S. “Single Professional Women: A Global Phenomenon, Challenges and Opportunities,” Linda Berg-Cross et al, The Journal of International Women’s Studies, June 2004.

The proportion of American women ages 40 to 44 who remain childless increased from 10% in 1976 to 18% in 2002. Mothers in this age group now have considerably fewer children: an average of just 1.9, compared with 3.1 in 1976. According to an October 2003 Census Bureau report, 44% of all U.S. women of childbearing age (15 to 44) are childless. The statistics may be good news for the economy: 71% of these childless women participate in the labor force. (In 1975, the total labor-force participation rate for women, with or without children, was just 46%).


The choice no longer comes down to stay-at-home moms or traditional jobs. A growing number of women according to Ellen Parlapiano and Patricia Cobe, co-authors of Mompreneurs, have decided that starting their own ventures let them combine work and family.
Thirtysomething women demand, expect and will pay the price to balance home and career. Equal parts traditionalism, irony and iconoclasm, Gen Xers – yesterday’s latchkey kids – are tomorrow’s economy’s true market makers or breakers.
Canadian FundRaiser
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