One of the most common criticisms of philanthropy is that it is dominated by older, white men giving away their cash.
In fact, women do give and always have, often informally and quietly, supporting their communities. But as formal givers - donating even more than men when comparing single female and male households –they receive little recognition.
They are noticeably absent from the Sunday Times Giving List for example, which reflects how wealth is attributed, and so generally does not capture the influence of women in decision-making by couples and families.
In the UK, the number of prominent female philanthropists can be counted on one hand; among them Dame Stephanie Shirley, who has given more than £65m to charity.
But things are starting to change. As women succeed in the workplace and grow more wealthy - and new ways of giving are making philanthropy more accessible - more women are using their resources to create a world they want to live in.
Women in Philanthropy (WiP) launched last year and it's a prime example of how women are connecting through donating.

A sisterly approach
Bringing together the ‘county set’ of Leicestershire and Rutland, this group of 50 or so active and retired professional women offer support and funding to local charities benefitting women and girls.
Izzy Sticklee of The Leicestershire and Rutland Community Foundation which manages the WiP fund, providing back office support and philanthropy advice, says: “WiP creates a real connection through causes that matter to women, in our local community, often regardless of background.
"The crowd funding element means that the members can see the impact of their donations together and meet like-minded women who want to look after their local area. There’s a real feeling of wanting to understand the issues and to help as a community. But it’s not just money. Many are offering all sorts of other support."
Just like many male philanthropists, women are strategic and engaged. But, compared to men, they often seek a deeper level of engagement and connection with the causes they support while taking a sisterly ‘let’s support each other supporting others’ approach.
Emma Turner, who advises Barclays Wealth and Investment Management’s High Net Worth clients during the course of their giving journey, says she has seen women’s participation in philanthropy increase over the last five years. But she does notice a difference between her male and female clients.
“It is true that when a couple sits down at the table they rarely come with equal status. It is my job to make sure both voices are heard. Philanthropy can be driven by ‘him’, but though women may lack a bit of confidence I see very little difference in men and women’s understanding and knowledge of philanthropy – both are equally inexperienced and both ask similar questions.”
Philanthropy advisor Lesley Pimm, director of marketing at SharedImpact, the world’s first global donor-advised fund platform, agrees that woman’s philanthropy is on the rise and they are looking for new ways to engage – often with other women.
Women are more careful
“In my experience women are embracing strategic philanthropy and are actively exploring new ways of giving,” she says. “They are motivated to find charitable projects where they can make a meaningful difference and they want to include their children, family and friends.
“Women also want to engage with other like-minded individuals and tend to be more public about their giving motivations than men. As a result we see an increase in family foundations, donor-advised funds, giving circles and women’s funds.”
A study by think tank and advisory firm New Philanthropy Capital (NPC) shows the top three causes targeted by their female clients are refugees, mental health and domestic violence.
It also showed they seemed less concerned with recognition; and it notes that, once a gift is made, men generally view it as still their own money, whereas women tend to view it as the charity’s money.

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