Women are increasingly a major driving force in Canadian philanthropy according to research released by Toronto Dominion (TD). A report released by TD Wealth, entitled Trust and Transformation: Canadian Women and Philanthropy, examines the critical and growing role women are playing in Canada’s charitable sector. With wives, female partners and daughters set to inherit $1trn over the next decade, the report is timely. It examines women’s unique motivations and approaches to giving. And it details the evolving differences between generations of female philanthropists.

Donations claimed by women in annual tax filings increased from $1.5bn in 2011 to $4.3bn in 2021. They and are projected to reach $5.9bn by 2030. Yet the TD study shows that tax incentives are not a key motivator for women when they make philanthropic decisions. Rather, trust emerged as an essential driver in Canadian women’s philanthropy, influencing how much, and to whom, they decide to give.

Trust is key to female giving

Trust is a critical decision driver. This is is reflected in the due diligence many women undertake to ensure they are fully satisfied with the charity. This includes volunteering, to gain a better understanding of the charity’s work. It also includes establishing relationships with key management personnel before providing their financial support. Additionally, women who participated in the research emphasised the importance and trust they place on the views of their friends, family and colleagues when making decisions about donating.

“Before donating, women tend to do more extensive diligence than men. Women seek counsel from family and friends in making charitable giving decisions. And they are also influenced by family experiences, social awareness and growth in financial resources. They also volunteer their time as a way to gain a better understanding of the charity’s work and establish relationships with key management personnel before providing any financial support,” said Jo-Anne Ryan, Vice President, Philanthropic Advisory Services at TD Wealth. “Women are a critical force behind the country’s charitable sector. Without women, the almost 86,000 Canadian charities would simply not function. Not only do they provide much-needed funding and a cadre of volunteers. But women participating in the sector are increasingly driving systemic change.”

Generational differences in philanthropic behaviour

The report also explores the differences in philanthropic priorities between younger and older female donors. It finds that younger donors are more focused on the future. They are working to improve historical and emerging inequities. Older donors continue to support charities that their families have traditionally donated to. Younger women were also found to be more willing to self-identify as philanthropists. The emergence of women in leadership positions and as role models has encouraged young women to step forward as volunteers, fundraisers, and funders.

Additionally, female entrepreneurs have become leaders in the creation of businesses that combine commercial success with the opportunity to create a better society. Coined “social entrepreneurs,” more women are integrating philanthropy into their business plans than ever before.

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“We are seeing more female social entrepreneurs add philanthropy to their business plans. They are putting money back into their communities and incorporating purpose as part of their hiring practice. They are propelled to help others through a sense of social responsibility and a belief that everyone who is able should set aside some time, effort, and personal resources to help build a community that is just and equitable,” added Ryan. “Women have a greater capacity to give than ever. It’s important that Canadian charities of all types and sizes demonstrate their relevance and positive impact on those they serve.”