Revelations: She Give, He Gives

RevelationsPhotograph of Tracy Gary ’73 has been a donor activist and philanthropist for more than 25 years. Gary supports and educates donors, family foundations, financial service organizations and nonprofits about the stewardship of money, leadership and philanthropy through Community Consulting Services, which she founded in 1978; she has also founded 17 nonprofits.

Gender Gap?

Tracy Gary ’73, a consultant who started the Women Donors Network in 1990, sees differences in philanthropic style that hinge on—well, gender.

If you give a man and woman $25,000 each, the woman will give it to twice as many groups as the man. It’s not because a woman is emotional—that kind of stereotype. It’s because she likes the engagement of being part of several different groups, and of networking. Many men will choose efficiency—maybe they’ll give two gifts. They’re not necessarily interested in maintaining relationships through giving. Women tend to be that much more involved in their children’s schools, for example; they need that network.

Men give immediately to their schools—regardless of which degrees they’ve earned. Women often give because their friends ask them to support an organization or cause.

For more from Gary, see Ask Yourself

IF you were satisfied with school, you may find such satisfaction reflected in your personal life and career. And it may, in turn, translate into a larger philanthropic statement—if Merle Goldman’s survey of her fellow 1953 alumnae is any indication.

Two years ago, on the eve of her 50th reunion, Merle surveyed her classmates on the directions their lives had taken since college: Categories included marriage, professions, children and grandchildren, and finances. Interesting data, made even more intriguing because Goldman’s husband, Marshall, had given the same 50th anniversary survey to his University of Pennsylvania classmates.

When more than 90 percent of Merle’s classmates who responded called their SLC education “very” or “extremely” meaningful, she wasn’t particularly surprised. But then the revelations took over.

“What really surprised me was how successful these women with liberal arts degrees were, once they got into the workplace,” says Goldman, who is professor emerita of history at Boston University and a specialist in Far Eastern and Chinese affairs. More than 75 percent of respondents considered their careers “very” or “extremely” fulfilling (more than a third listed their career as “homemaker”). Some classmates had lost their husbands, even their children; yet optimism, inquisitiveness and energy remained guiding forces in their lives.

And, more than 25 percent of them gave at least $25,000 a year to philanthropic causes; overall, 66 percent of Merle’s classmates gave a Reunion gift to SLC.

By contrast, Marshall Goldman’s survey had found that just nine percent of his Penn classmates were as generous, even as they achieved financial success. Their school satisfaction, he found, was also lower.

“Sarah Lawrence students were very enthusiastic,” he says. “They got a lot of personal attention.” Materialism, he adds, was never the Sarah Lawrence credo, nor was it a “rah-rah” school.

The results of both surveys are but a drop in the statistical bucket, and how much “rah” there is today may be open to debate. Yet college happiness and future contentment clearly go hand-in-hand, and philanthropic drive is never far behind.

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