Earlier this year, the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Center on Philanthropy in Indianapolis commissioned me to write a report on the latest research and trends in women’s philanthropy. This report, just-published, sums up everything we know to date about gender influences on giving and what women do or don’t do when it comes to philanthropic decisions and strategies.

Here are some highlights.

• Researchers have found that gender affects giving, empathy, helping and altruistic behavior. Women are more inclined to help in a relational manner, placing greater emphasis on relationships and on care for the individual, whereas men tend to prefer more non-relational acts, for instance, favoring justice as a reason for wanting to help.

• In research that utilized experimental game scenarios, women turned out to be “less selfish” than men, giving significantly larger gifts than men did. In addition, women were more likely to be perfectly altruistic (giving all of the allotted money to charity) than men, and less likely to be perfectly selfish (giving no money to charity).

A recent study conducted at the Center found three statistically significant differences in motives for giving:
1. Men are more motivated by a desire to “make my community a better place”
2. Men are more motivated to provide services where government can’t or won’t
3. Women feel a strong responsibility to help those who have less

Looking ahead, the frontier of women’s philanthropy lies in raising the profile of women’s giving and in strengthening social and political perceptions that women are powerful and control purse strings.