Does the Gender Gap Exist in Workplace Giving? (Infographic)

Gender-Gap-in-Workplace-Giving-InfographicWith congress back in session and mid-term elections around the corner, women’s issues are poised to be a major issue in the 2014 national political landscape; the gender pay gap has the chance to be a particularly hot topic. While pundits propose numerous suggestions as to why this gap exists between men and women in the US workforce, there is increasingly little doubt that it is real.

The same cannot be said for gender differences in charitable donations, a topic which has been debated for years. One 2013 study published in the American Economic Review pointed to field data showing women were less likely than men to give when given the opportunity to opt out of making a donation. A 2012 study by e-commerce company BiddingForGood studied 500 donors and concluded that men not only donated more frequently but gave more money when they did.

On the flip side several studies, including a comprehensive and groundbreaking 2010 study out of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the University of Indiana, have contradicted these findings. In an examination of 2,532 single-headed households of comparable income the study found only one category (Arts & Culture) in which men were likely to give more than their female counterparts. Across the board, women-run households were more likely to give than comparable male single-headed households.

FrontStream’s CSR & NPO services team, which manages non-financial services for our client’s CSR teams, noticed these wide-ranging results and decided to use our expertise and data to weigh in. In its research, the team took a look at a different kind of charitable activity — workplace giving —for insights into how gender might affect donations tied more intimately to income through employee giving campaigns.

The study examined approximately 1 million workplace donations tagged by gender over a 2 year period (2012 – 2013). Taken together the sample represents over $160 million in workplace giving transactions in 2014 dollars. Women donors constituted 40% of the sample. The larger sample was not controlled for match, salary, or other factors, yet the results were provocative.

Contrary to many seminal studies, such as those out of the well-regarded Lilly School of Philanthropy, in no year did women give more than men within the sample. In 2012 and 2013 men gave on average 26% and 24% respectively per transaction. Interestingly, the reported gender pay gap sits at 22% according to both a 2013 study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research and a 2014 analysis by the Pew Research Center. The closeness of the numbers is striking. Even when controlled for campaign, very few campaigns evidenced women providing larger donations than their male counterparts.

These analytics broadly suggest that the gender pay gap may have an effect on charitable giving more directly tied to salary. If true, it’s possible to calculate the cost of the gender gap to communities that rely on charitable giving. This cost could be said to be 20% or more that women could add to the total amount distributed to communities through workplace giving.

Even if the gender pay gap is not to blame for women’s smaller donations on average, there are also implications in the fact that women make up only 40% of the sample versus 47% of the overall workforce according to the US Department of Labor. Depending on the goals you hold for your workplace philanthropy and general CSR initiatives, increasing women’s participation might be a worthwhile goal in boosting employee engagement.

Tactics could vary widely and might include:

Regardless of the path chosen, the idea that equal pay for equal work lifts all boats is an increasingly power platform upon which to stand.

Author: Brandolon Barnett is an Operations Supervisor at FrontStream, focused on corporate social responsibility and nonprofit services. Brandolon has an MA in International Studies from the University of London SOAS. His work aids clients in corporate responsibility departments understand their giving program metrics and identify nonprofit partners.

FrontStream Holdings LLC is a registered ISO of Elavon, Inc. Georgia, Chase Paymentech Solutions, LLC, First National Bank of Omaha, Omaha, NE, BMO Harris Bank, N.A., Chicago, IL, Deutsche Bank, USA, New York, NY and Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Walnut Creek, CA.