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Girls vs Boys: Who Gives?

The Mark Zuckerbergs of Their Families?

This is interesting. Mark Zuckerberg aside, new research has found that when it comes to charitable giving, households headed by women give more than those headed up by men at almost every income level.

The research was done at the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University, and it doesn’t look at households “headed” by married couples because those don’t separate out male and female giving.

So, the question is why is this? Writing on the Wall Street Journal’s “Juggle” blog about life and family, Sue Shellenberger wonders if women’s higher level of giving correlates to women’s higher rate of church attendance. It’s an idea.

Right now, you’ve probably got a stack of mail from charities asking for donations. Are you more likely to say yes than the men in your life?

In our house, my husband tends to drive political donations and I tend to make most of the donations to non profit organizations, but I also tend to spend most of the money. Food, clothes, books, toys, I buy all that.  A lot of charitable giving happens as part of monthly household upkeep, which I do.

What kinds of organizations we give to, though, that’s a decision we make jointly. We decide on areas of giving (say hunger, literacy) and then on the non profit organizations we’ll give to, and I stick to making donations to those organizations. Except for the Wildlife Conservation Society. I’m a sucker for all those emails about endangered tigers.  Don’t even get me started on the polar bear situation. And frogs? We have a very beautiful coffee table book about frogs called “Sapos” (Spanish for frogs), because after seeing the frog exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History, I had to do something to help those embattled creatures with wet skin.

I don’t think women are inherently nicer than men or that I’m a natural caretaker.  As a woman do I have a stronger sense that we’re all in this together so we should help each other out?  I don’t think so. But I know in my sample of one, I am moved to give more spontaneously than my husband will.  Still, I have friends who are much more strategic in their donations.

What do you think? Why do you think women give away more money than men? And how do these decisions work in your house?

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