Apra Reviews: “Gender Matters: A Guide to Growing Women’s Philanthropy,” by Kathleen Loehr

Review by Thomas Turner

What We’re Reviewing: Gender Matters: A Guide to Growing Women’s Philanthropy

How We Learned About It: New CASE resource

Where You Can Find It: https://www.case.org/resources/gender-matters-guide-growing-womens-philanthropy

Summary: Kathleen Loehr’s book, “Gender Matters: A Guide to Growing Women’s Philanthropy,” takes a conversational (“appreciative inquiry”) approach to how nonprofit fundraising teams can discover, dream and design new possibilities for engaging with and stewarding women philanthropists. The book guides readers toward a sustainable approach to women’s philanthropy that creates a ripple effect across an organization’s constituents that is a win-win. Women are equally engaged, equally listened to and treated as equal partners in philanthropy by an organization, while the organization’s expanded vision of philanthropy creates more thriving and well-stewarded partners in giving.

The book is not prescriptive. Instead, Loehr approaches the topic from both academic research and organizational case studies. She intentionally directs the reader to take the way of thinking about women’s philanthropy from the book and use it as a way to frame the conversations needed to design a solution unique to the reader’s particular nonprofit. The book also supplies a suite of metrics to track your organization’s movement toward being a nonprofit dedicated to stewarding female donors well.

Key Takeaways:

1) Netweaving instead of Networking: An important distinction is the preference of many women to collaborate rather than be individual philanthropists, especially as today’s fundraising practices more often focus on individual strategies. (pg. 12)

2) Women’s philanthropy is driven by their empathy: “If we know that women are more connected to empathy and care for others [according to the report “How and Why Women Give,” from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute], then it is crucial to communicate with words and visuals that resonate.” (pg. 87)

3) Our data shows a bias, but we can remedy it: “The strategies you choose to widen your pipeline of women prospects and donors will necessarily dictate the metrics you track as measures of success.” Create reporting from your database that consistently includes women, pull reports with gender breakdowns, write women’s names first on briefings, always soft credit to a woman if both names are on a check and include women on acknowledgement letters by default.

If I could interview the author… I would ask her to take me through a case study of how an organization has successfully taken this approach from start to finish.

Apra Reviews is an opportunity for prospect development professionals to share educational resources — books, podcasts, videos and more — worth discussing.

Interested in contributing to Apra Reviews or suggesting materials for our editorial committee to review? Send a note to Kristin Fields, Connections managing editor, at kfields@aprahome.org.


Women-driven giving is one growing area, collective giving is another – check out 
Collective Giving: Philanthropy as a Team Sport to learn more.

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