Nonprofits should reach out and develop a base of support among single women, and a social-media strategy should be an important part of that effort. The evidence for both the importance of unmarried women as donors and social media as a key way to interact with them lies in a mashup of data from three sources:
- US Census Bureau
- Lilly School of Family Philanthropy 2010 Women Give study
- Website Magazine report on social media use by men and women
In its broadest sense, a mashup is the combining of content from different sources to reach a new or deeper understanding about a subject touched on in part by each of the original sources.
The three sources used in this mashup provided the most recent data and conclusions readily available. And while some of the data may be six or more years old, I have no reason to doubt its continuing validity. Taken together, the three sources support the conclusions that:
- Single men and women are a major segment of US population.
- Single women are more inclined to give than single men.
- Single women who give will generally give more than single men who give.
- Significantly more women than men use social media, use it more often, and engage with it more deeply.
The underlying data that support those conclusions make an unassailable argument for developing and nurturing an identified donor base of single women and for using social media to do it.
Single Women Are an Important Group and
There are More of Them than Single Men
According to the US Census Bureau 44.1% (103 million) of the adult population 18 and over in 2012 were unmarried. Of those, 53.6% (55.2 million) were women. There are nearly four and a half million more single women than single men.
Having established that single women are a substantial portion of the US population and that they exist in significantly greater numbers than single men, let’s take a look at the differences in how single men and women give to nonprofits.
Single Women Give More than Single Men
The 2010 Lilly School of Family Philanthropy Women Give Study directly addressed the issue of charitable giving on the part of single men and women. It found that at all income levels single women were substantially more likely to make a gift than single men. In fact single women had a double-digit lead at all income levels except for those with an income of less than $23,510.
When it came to the amount given, except for one income level the study showed an even more staggering difference in favor of women. Only for men and women making between $23,510 and $43,500 was the average amount given to charitable causes greater for men than women. At that income level, single women gave on average 32.1% less than single men. For all other income levels single women gave from 45.1% to 95.2% more than single men.
If you total up the gifts of one person from each income level shown below the total given by the five single women would be $4,612 while the total of the five single men would be $3,176. The women would have given 43.6% more than the men.
We’ve now established the following:
- Single women are a substantial component of the US population.
- Single women exist in the US in significantly greater numbers than single men.
- Single women in the US across the board are significantly more likely to make gifts to nonprofit organizations than single men.
- Single women, except for the second lowest income level, give on average substantially more to charitable causes than single men.
Social Media Are Important Tools For Engaging Women
Now let’s take a look at the most recent of our reports—the 2013 Website Magazine Report on Women and Social Media. It looked at online adults in the US and how they used and interacted with the top social media websites.
Unlike The data from the US Census Bureau and the Lilly School of Family Philanthropy, Website Magazine’s data examines the behavior of all adults, not just those who are unmarried. So a nitpicker could claim we’re comparing apples to oranges here. I don’t buy that. It’s more like Granny Smith apples to all apples, and I for one can live with that.
Except for Linkedin where online men had a 5% lead over women in usage and for Twitter where women users had only a 1% lead, women had a lead in the use of the compared social media of from 5% to 25%.
Women were also more likely to use social media as a news source and access it on mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets.
While the Website Magazine report did not examine interaction through social media with nonprofit organizations per se, it did address one area that might shed some light on how men and women may interact with nonprofits through social media. The Report looked at how online adults in the US interact with brands on social media, and a specific nonprofit is after all a brand.
Women and Social Media Are a Winner for Nonprofits
Okay, that’s the data and the conclusions accessed to produce my mashed-up conclusion that: Nonprofit organizations in the US should make a concerted attempt using social media to engage with and fundraise from unmarried women.
I think most of us who have worked in the nonprofit world and been given the responsibility for fundraising already knew that women as a group are a generous source of support. For me, the additional realization and the quantifiable understanding that this mashup delivered resonated in three areas:
- The importance of unmarried women as a separate category from women in general. The married/unmarried condition is a signifier. While I can’t tell you the specific significance for nonprofit fundraising, I do know that the signifiers that describe any group should be an important part of a communication/action-gereration strategy.
- How much more likely unmarried women are to make a gift than unmarried men.
- How much more in actual dollars unmarried women are likely to give than unmarried men.
- How important it is to have a specific social-media strategy for engaging women, both married and unmarried.