CF of the Lowcountry | Women Flex Their Philanthropic Muscle

In the Community

Women Flex Their Philanthropic Muscle

May 01, 2015
Learn about some of the ways women are influencing philanthropy in the Lowcountry.

My mother, working and raising her family in the 1950s, was charitable. In our middle class family, not a lot of checks were written to support nonprofits. But helping with scouting field trips, or supporting a bake sale with amazing pastries, or offering casseroles to grieving families—these were constants. And my mother, with her high school education, always managed the family budget; so for the checks that were written to support church and PTA, she was the one who made it happen. With Mother’s Day approaching, I find myself considering the giving lessons learned at her knee.

As a female with a grown daughter and a new granddaughter, I’m acutely aware of the changing roles of women in modern society. Women have always been charitable. But as they continue to increase their level of education and, as a result, their income, so too has their level of philanthropy increased. In fact, an October 2014 Fortune magazine article entitled “Dispelling Myths About Women and Charitable Giving” by Michelle Lodge goes so far as to say “On average, women are more philanthropic than men.”

In a 2010 Women Give study by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University, researchers found that American households headed by single females give 57% more than those headed by single males. Not only do women give more, they give differently. Nancy Heiser, vice president of wealth management at UBS, noted that her male clients look for tax advantages as a major reason for giving, while her female clients focus on ways to help others. Another difference is that oftentimes a man will direct his wealth to a single institution—like his alma mater, to fund a department chair or a building—while women tend to support a myriad of different causes. Valerie Adelman, a principal at Financial Asset Management Corporation, notes that women like to become personally involved on boards and committees and give both time and money, while men tend to “take out the checkbook and are done with it.” Women seem to appreciate the concept of collective giving, leveraging their dollars with those of others, and they often couple social and educational opportunities with their charitable efforts. As a result, women’s giving circles have become particularly popular in recent years.

We recognize that like all issues dealing with humankind, there are always exceptions. We also recognize that there is not a thing wrong with simply writing a check or supporting the one institution that you truly feel is worthy of your support. And whether a tax deduction or measurable outcomes or the good feeling you get from helping others is the main factor driving your giving, generally all come into play.

Fortunately, Community Foundation of the Lowcountry is happily assisting several groups of women with their philanthropy, and is proud of their success in growing resources for grants and/or scholarships, and the impact this work is having.

Three women’s groups have current scholarship funds at the Community Foundation. The American Association of University Women Scholarship is for women 25 years or older who wish to further their education. Current or planned enrollment in accredited two- or four-year college, university or vocational/technical school is required, and the recipient must be a resident of southern Beaufort County.

The Hilton Head Island—Bluffton Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority has also established a scholarship. It is for African American female graduating seniors from Hilton Head, Bluffton or Ridgeland High Schools. Academic leadership and community service are significant criteria.

The Lowcountry Ladies of South Carolina have established the Alexandria Patterson Scholarship Fund, which assists adult students who are returning to school.

We are also proud to house two women’s giving circles. These groups grow the endowments they established through annual membership contributions and make grants to nonprofit organizations serving their specific geographic areas. We have the PEARLS of Hampton County (Philanthropic Empowerment Among Rural Lowcountry Sisters) and Women in Philanthropy, which serves Beaufort County.

Living generously can become a part of all aspects of your life. If you are part of a group that would like to do something charitable, regardless of your gender, consider a partnership with Community Foundation of the Lowcountry. We are eager to assist.

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