Sarah Hanley

Many of the charitable funds at the Catholic Foundation of Greater Philadelphia were created by women, and many of the organizations supported by CFGP’s charitable funds are female-led. We have and continue to make an immense impact on philanthropy in the U.S.

In fact, in the majority of American households, women are the driving force behind charitable giving. Specifically, women:

* are more likely to participate in charitable giving, across all races and ethnicities;

* are more likely to participate in giving circles, due to their interest in collective giving. In fact, more than half of giving circles in the U.S. (56%) are made up entirely of women;

* are the majority of major donors over men.

While there are many factors that contribute to these statistics, it’s important to understand the “why” behind them. An important explanation as to why women tend to be more philanthropic is attributed to our thoughts and feelings behind charitable giving. According to a study done by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, women tend to make giving decisions based on empathy for others.


Perhaps the most interesting data surrounding women’s roles in charitable giving has to do with being the decision makers in the household when it comes to philanthropy. According to a study performed by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, it was reported that for almost 90% of high net-worth households, women were either considered the sole decision makers, or at least an equal partner in charitable decision making.

These studies provide crucial insight to fundraising and development professionals across the nonprofit sector. At CFGP, we’ve taken this into account over time and created both a charitable fund and annual event that acknowledges female philanthropists and development professionals and encourages these trends in their giving.

CFGP’s Women in Philanthropy Leadership Fund ( was created to empower women leaders to make a difference in our community through charity. The fund provides women with a direct participatory role in identifying the organizations, initiatives and leaders who are making the greatest impact in our region.

Donors are also offered exclusive opportunities to connect with other philanthropic leaders and learn more about the organizations in their area that are doing the most good. Donors within our highest giving circles are offered voting privileges for Women in Philanthropy Leadership Fund allocations.

As we’ve seen from recent research, women have an increasing ability to effect change through their own leadership and philanthropy. Donors of the CFGP Women in Philanthropy Leadership Fund recognize that by giving together, their gifts go further.


All donations to the fund support local nonprofit organizations that are women-led, or support women’s services, and are selected by our fund donors. All one-time gifts to the Women in Philanthropy Leadership Fund have the capacity to become recurring gifts at the donor’s request. Each giving circle is listed below and includes annual benefits.

* Charity in Action: Gifts of $250 – $499

* Devotion in Action: Gifts of $500 – $999

* Leadership in Action: Gifts of $1,000 – $2,499

* Prayer in Action: Gifts of $2,500 to $4,999

* Love in Action: Gifts of $5,000 and above

To learn more about the Women in Philanthropy Leadership Fund, giving circles, and their annual benefits, contact CFGP at 215-587-5650 or visit


Sarah Hanley is the president and CEO of the Catholic Foundation of Greater Philadelphia.