Does this hit by Al Green describe your marriage?  Couples, do you share love with each other and give happiness to others?

Thanks to Valentine’s Day and a recent event hosted by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, I’ve been thinking about the charitable giving of married couples.  Prior research tells us that men and women differ in their giving patterns; so, what happens when they get together as husband and wife?

According to research presented by Dr. Debra Mesch and Dr. Eleanor Brown, it depends on who is the “decider” – the woman, the man, or both?

  • If a husband earns more money, he and his wife are equally as likely to be a decider.
  • If a wife earns more money, she is twice as likely to be the decider.

So, if the husband is the decider, giving is more likely to be:

  • Strategic (motivated by extensive plans or tax advantages, for example)
  • Based on citizenship (helping the community, for example)

But, if the wife is the decider, giving is more likely to be:

  • Egalitarian (where giving is spread out to many organizations)
  • Nurturing (to organizations that serve the “needy”)

And, if they are joint deciders, giving is more likely for:

  • Religious purposes
  • Needy persons

Interesting differences…but why does this matter to a nonprofit professional?

  1. Don’t make assumptions about who the decider is.  Do you automatically think of the husband first?
  2. Ask a prospect who should be present for conversations.  Should you invite the spouse?
  3. Match your structure with your fundraising.  Is your database simply male-centered?

How else can fundraisers effectively navigate relatonship building with married couples?  Please leave a comment with your idea.

Bookmark and Share
Want to know more?  I encourage you to check out this upcoming course, “Women and Philanthropy: The Time is Now” – presented by the: