Data shows that women are a generous force who give freely of their time and talent. Yet our research finds that many women may still be eager to do more.
The Impact of Women, the sixth volume in our State of Generosity series—created in partnership with Women Doing Well and Gloo—explores how women currently approach finances and generosity, as well as how this group’s future generosity holds significant weight for charitable organizations and the Church. This article unpacks two key observations about how women feel about generosity.
1. Women May Have Some Deficits in Their Financial Education
As we consider what might help women become more confident and comfortable in their generosity, it’s enlightening to look at where women receive financial information.
For the most part, their financial education comes through close relationships, such as a family member or friend (44%). Following this, one-third of women (35%) says they consult the internet for financial advice. The top two sources for men are reversed; they primarily feel able to learn from their own online research (45%), and 37 percent talk to close family or friends.
Beyond this, some telling differences emerge.
First, men are more likely than women to have professional instruction and guidance about finances. One in three men (32%) learns through a financial advisor, a source only one in five women (21%) says they receive help from. Professional financial advice likely reinforces other possible sources of instruction, as it strengthens comprehension and discernment applied to informal learning methods like internet research or personal conversation.
Additionally, nearly one-quarter of women (24%) says they haven’t learned about finances from any of the possible sources of information Barna mentioned. This might point to a lack of knowledge about finances, uncertainty about where to get input, or both.
There may be more established pipelines that present men with opportunity or incentive to receive concrete financial knowledge. But, as women have gained more financial agency, capacity and responsibility over time, and as research speaks to their place in financial decision-making, it’s essential that they are equipped as earners, stewards and donors.
2. Women Are Open to Donating to Various Charitable Causes
When asked about financial support given to Christian groups—including churches, other ministries, missionaries and education—men are more likely than women to say they are currently donating money.
When it comes to the possibility of giving, however, women are quite open-minded. In fact, whether discussing financial gifts to Christian groups or to a range of other causes for charity and justice, women outpace men in saying they would consider offering financial support. Issues such as sexual abuse, mental health, extreme poverty and women’s maternal health are among the causes women might be most interested in supporting in the future.
There are a couple ways of looking at this data. On the one hand, it could be said that women’s generosity toward many causes remains largely theoretical. On the other hand, women seem to have great curiosity, connections and potential for impact as donors.
The big-picture view of women’s financial posture is that they are primed for more—more satisfaction, more confidence, more information and more opportunities to give.
Editor’s note: This article only highlights just two of the key observations our research reveals about women and generosity. To learn about the other key observations, purchase a copy of The Impact of Women or read the report in Barna Access Plus.
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About the Research
This report is based on an online quantitative survey of 2,016 U.S. adults, conducted from November 12–19, 2021. The margin of error for the sample is +/- 2 percent at the 95 percent confidence level. Researchers used an online panel for data collection and observed a quota random sampling methodology. Quotas were set to obtain a minimum readable sample by a variety of demographic factors and samples were weighted by region, ethnicity, education, age and gender to reflect their natural presence in the American population (using U.S. Census Bureau data for comparison).
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Barna is a private, non-partisan, for-profit organization under the umbrella of the Issachar Companies. Located in Ventura, California, Barna Group has been conducting and analyzing primary research to understand cultural trends related to values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors since 1984.
© Barna Group, 2023