According to TD’s report Time, Treasure, Talent, total charitable donations from Canadians have grown to $8.36B — or an increase of 69% from a decade earlier. One of the most important forces in creating this massive increase in giving has been the participation in the charitable sector by Canadian women.
However, as a volunteer and fundraiser for several charities over the last two decades, I’m repeatedly told by senior leadership that “women are cheap: women simply don’t give”, which is astonishing, since I am a woman and give liberally of both my money and time.
How can this perception be so inaccurate? Who exactly are the women in this segment driving such dramatic growth in the non-profit sector? Are they simply affluent women (professionals, widows, retirees) — or are they increasingly “Single Indies” — professional women with no kids — with a documented propensity to donate both time and money to charities?
Note that the $8.36B figure above does not reflect the hours and hours of time women contribute to charities on a weekly basis. I have devoted nearly a full time job’s worth of effort to several of my causes. Anne-Marie, one of my partners at Willow (and a Single Indie!), just finished months of training leading up to her volunteer position with the Pan Am Games here in Toronto, and spent many many hours on her feet, in the heat, and in the rain contributing to that effort. You can’t imagine how powerful (and fun) her Pan Am experience was unless you take a look at her twitter @atmarais.
Financial institutions and non-profits are both striving to build relationships with women in general, as women control approximately one-third of total household wealth in Canada. Non-profits would be wise to notice that women, especially, “Single Indies”, are more likely to volunteer their time for a charity and more likely to donate to a charity than men at the same income – or even higher income level.
Therefore, it would make business sense for non-profits to target the huge number of women in Canada – particularly “non moms/Single Indies” – that have both the financial resources and the passion needed to make a massive impact to charities. By positively engaging with “Single Indies”, particularly through social media, non-profits can leverage the tremendous reach of these highly influential people. The average woman in this segment can touch her entire social media network — averaging 1,500 followers! Talk about peer-to-peer giving opportunities among influentials!
These women have the time (freed from the restraints of family life), the treasure (they are defined as much by their passionate attitudes and values as they are by their careers and income) and the talent (59% have earned Masters degrees), to make a significant change in our society through their gifts of time and money. They are a coveted group – and their influence impacts not only other non-moms – but to the rest of the female population who look to them as trendsetters.
Of course, don’t make the mistake of communicating with this influential group without developing a clear messaging plan. Single Indies may invest their time and donate more consistently than their male or married female counterparts – not to mention spending more per capita on cars, real estate, jewelry, and – but they approach these activities very differently from other female segments.
Given their influence, failing to pay attention to the unique content needs of this market will translate rapidly into a poor reputation and poor campaign outcomes. As my mother always told me, you only have one chance to make a first impression – and for Single Indies, this is GOSPEL.
Written by: Jennifer Stothers