Feel Rich By Giving Big: 10 Keys to Modern Bosslady Philanthropy

Author: Emily Howe, Corporate Gender Equity Consultant, Portola Advisors

For executive women, lady entrepreneurs, and other women of financial means, living a big life – and feeling rich - is very often linked to giving back.

As the world’s sixth-wealthiest female billionaire and mega-philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs puts it, “To leave a mark - in a way that you think is important and lasting - that's a life well-lived.”

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In fact, women report, twice as often as men, that giving to charity is one of the most satisfying aspects of having wealth (US Trust, 2013).

To help you give in a way that really makes an impact and brings you joy, here are some facts and inspirations to help you navigate modern giving:

  1. Give your time and mentorship. Pay it forward, like Oprah by inspiring and helping other women. (#womensupportingwomen) Mentor a rising female star in your industry so she can really soar. (Only 54% of women have access to senior leaders who act as mentors (Egon Zehnder, 2017). And/or give your expertise to your fave cause by serving on the board.

  2. Don’t start your own non-profit. Seriously. I know it seems glam, but if your end goal is being helpful to those in need, think again. There are 1.5 million U.S. nonprofits already – in nearly every area. The problem is this: each nonprofit spends a chunk on their own administration. (Think: If 20 hunger-fighting nonprofits merged, they could pay one administrative group instead of 20 – and then the rest of the money could be used to fight hunger directly.) So find a nonprofit already helping your cause and give to them.

  3. Vote with your dollars. These days, there are good and evil choices for just about all of our buying decisions. A great way to do good every day is making the most planet-friendly, worker-friendly, whatever-you-care-about-friendly decisions when doing what you do, from drinking beer (#craftbeer) to shopping (#ethicalshopping #womanownedbusinesses) to vacation planning (#ecofriendlytravel). For more tips, check out our vote with your dollars article.

  4.  Influence the men in your lives to give. On average, women make less money than our male peers (argh!), but we still have a big influence on household spending – from home goods to philanthropy. Making philanthropy a key part of our relationships with our partners is critical, and millennial women are doing it en masse (Fidelity Women and Giving, 2018). So, talk with your significant others, friends and family about making philanthropy moves. Bonus points: Give the big spenders in your life the opportunity to sponsor a table for a charity gala.

  5. Focus on a few. Fifty-five percent of millennial women support a wide variety of causes, which isn’t actually the most effective method. (Due to fees-per-donation and other admin costs, giving $1000 to one organization goes much further than giving $200 to five different ones.) If you have trouble choosing, pick a charity that works on lots of issues, like the Global Fund for Women or the ACLU.

  6. Be strategic, not just spontaneous. Millennial women tend to give spontaneously – as in donating a dollar on-the-spot at the register or giving to a GoFundMe when it flashes across the ‘gram. Keep doing that, but just don’t let those one-off donations make you feel like a good philanthropist who can stop giving. Instead, pick 1-2 organizations you really want to support, save up, and donate big and proud.

  7. Set a target and achieve it in your sleep. Decide how much to give annually and set up a separate bank account with automatic transfers each month. (According to several of the largest charitable foundations, the average giver donates 3-5% of their adjusted gross income.) Not sure which bank account to use? Well, we at Money & Mimosas are HUGE fans of Radius Bank’s Superhero checking  account, which supports March of Dimes’ mission to lead the fight for the health of all moms and babies. Through everyday spending, 1.00% of your total purchases each month will be donated to March of Dimes. Your donation helps advocate for policies that prioritize the health of moms and babies and provide resources and programs for moms before, during and after pregnancy. And as if that isn’t enough, you’ll also earn 0.50% APY2 on balances of $2,500 or more! All interest earned will be matched by Radius and donated to March of Dimes2

  8.  Give like a woman. Women are more likely to give to charity – and to give more - than men in similar financial situations, according to the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (2014). And it’s truer today than ever before: Since the 2016 election, women’s giving to progressive causes has outpaced men’s by six-fold (WPI, 2018). P.S. Let's all keep fighting for those higher salaries so we can give even more! (#equalpayforequalwork).

  9. Donate like a Black philanthropist. African-American households at all income levels give 25% more than their same-income peers of other races. And, more African American households donate - nearly two-thirds compared with 55% of all American households (W.K. Kellogg Foundation, 2011). For inspiration, check out Black Philanthropy Month (it’s August!) (#GetYourGiveOn).

  10. And, consult a lady tax expert. (Actually, any gender will do, but going with a female supports women’s empowerment.) Anywho: the new tax codes make it harder to get tax breaks (unless you’re giving a LOT). Ask your accountant for tips, such as "bunching" a.k.a. saving for a few years and then donating one large sum (to get the tax break). But, BTW: Research shows that most people give because it feels good, not for the tax break (Scharf, 2018), so open your heart and your pocketbook and make it happen, either way.

And just in case you need a little more inspo, here’s a final thought from mega-star and philanthropist, Beyoncé: “We’re all in this together. Each and every one of us can make a difference by giving back.”


For more tips on how to use your money for good, join our weekly insider list.

About Emily Howe: Emily Howe is a senior management consultant with Portola Advisors. She has a MA degree in Gender and Cultural Studies from Simmons College, and has a special focus on helping businesses advance women in leadership and reduce gender bias throughout organizations. For 15+ years, as an expert in change management, Emily has served large international companies, public and private universities, nonprofit and arts organizations, philanthropic groups, government entities, and individuals. Emily is Prosci-certified in change management and is on the board of the Association of Change Management Professionals, Northern California. And, she co-produces an event series called "Taboo Topics in Business.Connect with her on LinkedIN.


This post is sponsored by Radius Bank.