Women and philanthropy
Gifts are growing, so is potential
By Charlotte Crystal
Women like to feel needed. They want to have an impact. And increasingly, they’ve got the financial clout to make a difference.
But women tend to view philanthropy differently than men and they want to be approached in a different way, according to Sondra Shaw and Martha Taylor, co-authors of “Reinventing Fundraising: Realizing the Potential of Women’s Philanthropy.” Many women want to feel a connection with a place. Rather than just writing a check, they like to commit time and energy — as well as money — to specific projects.
They also appreciate personal appeals, said Jenny Wyss-Jones, assistant campaign director for the University of Virginia. They want to know their gift has an impact. They also want their contributions to be recognized — and credited to their names, not to their husbands’.
“Women are becoming significant volunteers in our development effort and many have the ability to make significant gifts,” Wyss-Jones said.
That’s why in 2000 the U.Va. Office of Development launched Women in Leadership & Philanthropy, a program to identify and cultivate women — alumnae, parents and friends — as volunteer leaders and supporters, said Wyss-Jones, who created the program and continues to administer it.
“The Women in Leadership & Philanthropy program is designed to build ties with alumnae and women friends — through education, opportunities for leadership, and giving strategies,” said Robert Sweeney, senior vice president for development and public affairs. “We are reaching out to women to let them know that their opinions and efforts, as well as their gifts, are very important to the University.”
The program’s initiatives include the organization of regional focus groups (11 so far) to discuss the program and identify new women leaders; reunion activities, such as panel discussions tailored to women’s interests; networking opportunities and social receptions; training for
development officers and better visibility for women who have been active supporters of the University; backing for women candidates interested in leadership positions around Grounds; and the creation of a Campaign Executive Committee subcommittee to strengthen the engagement of women — a subcommittee that will be headed by alumna Val Ackerman, the president of the Women’s National Basketball Association.
Currently, more than half of the University’s undergraduates — about 55 percent — are women. And while women represent less than 40 percent of all living U.Va. alumni, they represent half of U.Va. alumni who have graduated since 1974 — when the first co-ed class graduated.
Nationally, women are coming into their own in their careers, and their interest in philanthropy is growing. Women represent more than 50 percent of the U.S. population and about 60 percent of the women aged 20 to 64 are in the labor force, according to the Census Bureau. In 2003, women controlled at least half of the country’s 10.6 million firms, which generated $2.5 trillion in sales, according to the Center for Women’s Business Research.
Add to that life expectancy — the average life expectancy for girls born in 1999 was 79.4 years and for boys, 73.9 years — and it’s clear that many women will both earn and inherit money in the years ahead.
During the University’s previous capital campaign, 40 percent of U.Va.’s alumnae contributed an average of $1,700, according to Wyss-Jones. (That compares with 43 percent of the University’s male graduates who contributed an average of $15,000, though a few very large gifts from men helped pull up the male average.) For now, universities do not keep statistics that allow comparisons of giving only by women. But according to the Council for Aid to Education, a non-profit organization that collects data on private giving to education, on average, only 12.4 percent of alumni made gifts in 2005 (among the 1,005 institutions of higher education and private, K-12 schools surveyed). In contrast, the 40-43 percent participation rate of U.Va. alumni in the University’s past campaign was relatively high.
While women tend to give less to charity during their lives than do men, they tend to give more when they die. In 1995, nearly twice as many wealthy women contributed to charitable causes at their deaths as men — 24.3 percent of women versus 13.4 percent of men — according to Martha Britton Eller, who authored a 2001 study on the topic for the Internal Revenue Service.
Also in 1995, widows, who were the top givers among all charitable contributors, made a total of $3.7 billion in charitable bequests, Eller
found. And, according to the Center for Women’s Business Research, education-related groups were among the top three types of organizations that most women supported. The next-most-popular causes were women-related groups and arts organizations.
For issues they care about, women can and do make a difference now. They can be expected to make even more of a difference in the years ahead — for U.Va. and other deserving organizations nationwide.
Dr. Carol R. Angle
• Parent of faculty (Dr. John F. Angle, associate professor of radiology).
• Former chair of pediatrics at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, where she practiced for 45 years.
• Lives in Charlottesville, Va.
A member of the University of Virginia Art Museum’s Advisory Board, Dr. Angle has supported the museum in many ways — through unrestricted annual gifts, a recent pledge of $1 million to the museum’s new construction, and the establishment of a gift annuity of $1 million, also directed to the museum.
Mary Scott Birdsall
• Alumna (Curry ’66); wife of alumnus J.B. Birdsall
• Former eighth-grade English teacher.
• Lives in Albemarle County, Va.
A member of the Curry School of Education Foundation’s Board and the Council for the Arts, Mary Scott (along with her husband) most recently supported the Curry School’s building addition, as well as student and faculty initiatives in the arts. She also has given to the American Sign Language program, which continues to keep it available as a foreign language option for undergraduates. In addition, she supports the Under 5s Center, the South Lawn project in the College, the Nursing School and Jefferson Scholars.
Ann Lee Saunders Brown
• Spouse of alumnus Charles L. Brown (Engineering ’43), the late chairman and CEO of AT&T.
• Recently named as honorary co-chair of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences campaign.
• Lives in Princeton, N.J.
In 2005, she gave $10.5 million to the University, including $5 million to endow the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, $5 million to endow the Science and Engineering Library, and $500,000 to endow a Jefferson Scholarship reserved for engineering students in the name of her late husband Charles L. Brown.
Glynn D. Key
• Alumna (College ’86, Law ’89).
• Partner with corporate law firm of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr.
• Currently a member of the U.Va. Board of Visitors (2004-present), Key also serves in leadership positions on numerous other University boards.
• Lives in Washington, D.C.
She has made gifts to the U.Va. Alumni Association, the Ridley Scholarship Fund, the Miller Center of Public Affairs, the Boots Mead Endowment and the Fund for Excellence in Science and Technology.
• Alumna (Curry ’61).
• Teacher for 34 years.
• Lives in Salem, Va.
In 2004, through a planned gift, she established a scholarship for future teachers at the Curry School named for her grandfather, John Adam McNeil, who attended the University in the 1860s. McNeil also has made gifts to athletics.