Never Underestimate the Power of a Widow

Even Beyonce said, ‘girls rule the world.’ It’s also true in the world of philanthropy. Women and their role in philanthropy have been hot topics for many years. There are amazing books that go into the depths of exactly how women are moving the needle. In this blog post we’ll focus on female widows and the impact they fuel in the nonprofit sector. It’s not only that women are inheriting wealth from their partners, they’ve made their own money.

Let’s look at some facts:

  • In addition to balancing work and families, women volunteer at a higher rate than men.
  • Forty-five percent of American millionaires are now women, and 48 percent of estates worth more than $5M are controlled by women
  • Women-owned firms that bring in $10M+ in revenue increased by 57 percent in 2013
  • By some estimates, as much as two-thirds of all wealth in the U.S. will be controlled by women by the year 2030.

Relating to women, regardless of their marital status, is critical to fundraising success. The other significant factors are that 1) women live longer than men and 2) they make up more than half of all charitable donors.

Enter the widow.

She controls the disposition of a lifetime of earnings and accumulated wealth. She has buried her partner and has had a lifetime of experiences with nonprofit organizations. Whether it is the hospital that saved her life or the university that helped shape her children, a widow has the power to significantly thank and support nonprofit organizations. As she reflects on her life, she is thinking about the legacy she and her family will leave.

As a fundraiser, you might put some thought into how you approach women of all generations. What is your strategy to engage them? What tactics will you employ to help them fulfill their philanthropic passion? If you don’t have any specific endeavors, you might consider developing some. Remember, girls run the world.

About Mary Hackett

Mary is a fundraiser & operations strategist who specialized in helping development offices create deep, meaningful experiences for their donors.


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