Are your female donors 2nd-class citizens?

It’s amazing how often I see this: A nonprofit researches their donors (smart move), and gets a bunch of demographic statistics. Almost always, there’s a surprise stat. It looks like this:

68% of our donors are male

It’s a surprise, because it’s probably not true. Women commandingly outnumber men among donors. About two to one.

There are donor files that tilt male, because of the nature of the cause or the way it’s been marketed. But that’s rare. If your organization is one of these, you probably already know it.

The research keeps on telling us that males outnumber females because they’re using outdated methods of discerning the gender of a donor. It does what everyone used to do, and call a married couple by the name of the husband: Mr. and Mrs. John Donor. Yep, that’s a male!

Even though it’s more likely a female if you only knew.

When a donor is a couple, it might mean it really is a couple who work together on their giving decisions and communicate carefully and completely about it. But no. If you’re in a relationship, you know how it is: Some things you lead on, some things your partner leads on.

And if the thing is charitable giving, it’s more likely the female in a couple who’s paying attention and calling the shots. Sometimes it’s the dude, but less often.

The problem you walk into with labeling your donors by gender this way is you are at huge risk of treating the real donor wrong: Ignoring her. Talking over her head to her husband, who isn’t listening.

Be sure when you communicate with and recognize donors, you know who your real donor is.

There’s a great discussion about this over at Michael Rosen Says: How to Stop Offending Your Women Donors. Here’s the bottom line:

When you show people proper respect, they’ll be far more likely to become loyal supporters. Ignoring women, disrespecting women, or failing to properly recognize women will cost your organization.

Do your best to find out who your real donor is. It’s worth the effort.


Comments

2 responses to “Are your female donors 2nd-class citizens?”

  1. On our online fundraising platform women tend to give at a higher percentage than their male counterparts (63% vs. 37%).

  2. On our online fundraising platform women tend to give at a higher percentage than their male counterparts (63% vs. 37%).

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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