Blog home

Groundbreaking index on giving to women’s and girls’ causes

By Candace Harada
October 9, 2019

The Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy have created the first study of a systematically generated, comprehensive index of more than 45,000 charitable organizations dedicated to women and girls in the United States. The Women and Girls Index: Measuring Giving to Women’s and Girls’ Causes (WGI) presents a groundbreaking resource for insight on the characteristics of women’s and girls’ philanthropy and its patterns of giving.

In recent years, women’s and girls’ causes have gained increased public attention through topics such as the gender pay gap, policies on reproductive rights, sexual assault and harassment, and other gender equality issues. This resource reveals the disconnect between increased societal attention toward women’s and girls’ causes and charitable giving toward organizations dedicated to women and girls.

Key findings of the WGI include:

  • Organizations dedicated to women and girls make up a relatively small portion of total charitable organizations (3.3 percent in 2016).
  • WGI organizations can be found in every nonprofit sector but are most present in the human services subsector (32 percent in 2016).
  • Women’s and girls’ organizations focused on general women’s health received $1.2 billion in philanthropic support in 2016.
  • WGI organizations received $6.3 billion in charitable contributions from individuals, foundations, and corporations in 2016 (1.6 percent of overall charitable giving).
  • Organizations dedicated to women and girls are, on average, smaller than other charitable organizations in terms of various financial and non-financial resources.

Why it matters

Previous studies regarding women’s and girls’ philanthropy have largely focused on the donor side of the equation. The WGI is the first tool to reveal new knowledge for the recipient side. This publicly available tool can serve as a baseline for scholars, researchers, and professionals regarding existing research and allow for future studies to expand further with a gender lens. These findings can help women’s and girls’ organizations, nonprofits, fundraisers, and donors set fundraising goals and benchmark against other organizations.

The WGI is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) is dedicated to training and empowering scholars and professionals to improve philanthropy by being innovators and leaders in creating positive, lasting change to improve the world. The WPI at IUPUI is devoted to increasing the understanding of women’s and girls’ philanthropy through extensive means of research, education, and shared insights. The new research provided in the WGI present significant revelations on the landscape and scope of organizations dedicated to women and girls but also addresses the gap between societal views and donations toward women’s and girls’ causes, highlighting the need for further research within this field.

View the full report

Tags: Equity