Behind most community change efforts are … women.
It doesn’t often hit the headlines, but women are driving community impact all across the world. Women volunteer more, step up more as advocates, and get engaged more deeply in their causes.
Research shows that women's top philanthropic motivation is “connection to a cause.” Experts say that women tend to be greater champions for their causes than men. And women don’t just get more involved, we give more, too. About 74% of women give to charities versus 68% of men. And single women are significantly more likely than single men to give.
So why is that? It might be connected to the rise of female economic power. Women are leading companies and C Suites, making up 43% of America’s top wealth holders. Women-owned firms generate $1.9 trillion in annual sales and employ 13 million people nationwide. And women make about 85% of the consumer purchases in America. Yet reality is that although are still getting paid less than men, they continue to give more to charitable causes. That fact alone speaks volumes about the collective power of women.
But the stories behind the numbers are what really get me excited. In Lafayette, Louisiana, women leaders are making sure children have books at home before they come to school. So far, they’ve enrolled more than 7,000 families in four counties in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, which provides kids with one free book each month until the age of 5. This effort, led by United Way of Acadiana, is showing results: half of the at-risk children are scoring better in reading, and more than twice as many parents are reading to their kids.
In Philadelphia, women leaders are empowering girls from 7th through 12th grade who attend schools in poor communities. The program, called Girls Today, Leaders Tomorrow, helps girls become self-directed, self-regulated learners teed up for success in school, work and life. The United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey has raised almost $3 million for this work.
And in Winston-Salem, NC, women leaders are helping 9th graders hit the ground running with Summer Success Academy tutoring and family engagement programs, fueled by United Way of Forsyth County, which has increased graduation rates by 10%.
I believe in the power of women to create positive change. Women are where the power is – at work, at home, and in the charitable giving arena. On this Giving Tuesday, take on the challenge of joining the growing community of women changing the world. Find your local United Way and learn how you can get involved.