Building on Female-Controlled Wealth

By 2026, Canadian women will control $3.3 trillion in financial assets. This demonstrates the enormous impact female-controlled wealth will continue to make.

So says a 2017 study1 by TD Wealth. The study also says that by 2022, “$895 billion will flow between generations in Canada, much of it coursing into households headed by women”.

Historically, women have had significant influence in the charitable sector and have led the charge to help more vulnerable populations. Women make up about 70% of the leadership in the third sector and a growing percentage of the leadership positions in government and business.

Individuals contribute 60 to 80% of donations to charitable campaigns, as reported by Rideau Hall Foundation and Imagine Canada2. Donations claimed by women have tripled to $3.5 billion while the value of donations claimed by men has doubled to $6.2 billion.

How do you apply this knowledge to your fund development strategies? Planning around the research is a good place to start!

Women are giving in traditional and non-traditional ways across the sector. According to Classy’s 2018 report on philanthropy3, approximately 60% of online donors were female, both first timers and returning online donors. We also see this reflected in the increase in women’s giving groups such as 100 Women Who Care, Women United and other women’s’ affinity groups across the country.  There is no doubt these organizations are paying attention to the wealth transfer and planning around it.

To maximize your connections with female donors, consider segmentation and specifics: design your development and communication strategies by paying attention to gender differences.

“Both men and women are motivated to give but for different reasons. Marketing and communication need to be tailored to reach the different audiences. A one-size-fits-all approach won’t always resonate.”

 – Andrea Pactor, Interim Director, Women’s Philanthropy Institute

Communications with female donors should focus on the highest giving motivators: impact on human lives and personal connection to the mission.

Research shows women are more likely to give to charities where they are personally involved. Program volunteers, Board or committee members and fundraising event volunteers strengthen your organization and reveal both a strong interest and obvious linkage. These opportunities build deeper bonds and engage your female donors in ways that appeal to them.

Using your monthly giving programs to strengthen your relationships will help you identify donors who may have an interest in a long-term philanthropic relationship and perhaps a bigger role. Your data should identify your long-term donors. They are showing their loyalty. Are you listening? Data analysis should advance both your fundraising and communication strategies.

Reaching out via phone calls or surveys will reveal donors who are looking for a deeper connection. Inviting donors to a coffee focus group or one-on-one meeting will give you an opportunity to engage. Female donors tend to favour organizations who embrace a holistic approach to fund development. This speaks to their desire to build a trusting relationship: let your donor into your organization so they can get to know you and become part of real change. Whether the result is a stronger annual program, increased monthly gifts or building your major gifts or legacy giving pipeline, it is all going to move you closer to achieving your mission of improving lives. Isn’t that our common goal?

Focus on the basics and your leaders will be revealed. Give leadership opportunities to your donors and they will lift your fundraising to new heights. Perhaps they’ll even start an affinity group.

“Many women have a preference to collaborate, rather than act as individual philanthropists. This enables them to maximize the impact of their giving. It’s important for fundraisers to go beyond individual strategies and consider how they can tap into the strength of women’s networks.”
– Kathleen Loehr,  Women’s Philanthropy Institute4

Invite women to tour your programs and ask their opinion about what they think would be meaningful investments for donors. Guide their experience so you can help them invest where they can influence significant change. Be brave and be up front about costs, needs and infrastructure.

Create a circle of advocates who can rally support with like-minded women. Work with women who want to work with you and develop genuine, warm connections. Capitalize on the female-controlled wealth boom and recognize it all starts when women feel a trusting relationship with you.


1 TD Wealth, Time, Treasure, Talent: Canadian Women and Philanthropy, Addendum October 2017.

2 Rideau Hall Foundation, 30 Years of Giving in Canada. The Giving Behaviour of Canadians: Who gives, how and why?

3 Classy, The State of Modern Philanthropy, 2018.

4 Women’s Philanthropy Institute, Giving By And For Women: Understanding high-net- worth donors’ support for women and girls, January 2018.