Where there’s a movement, you’ll often find women moving it forward.
That’s what happened in 1908 as Lyman Stewart and T.C. Horton began the work of founding Biola University in Los Angeles. At the same time, a group of women, including their wives, Lula and Anna, visited 6,000 homes to share the gospel and ask about interest in Biola. These women were integral to the school’s early growth.
More than 100 years later, Biola found that women continue to be a critical force at the university—and in building the Kingdom.
Uncovering a need
During a $180 million capital campaign, the school worked with Women Doing Well founder Ann McKusick to help them focus on and encourage women. The team considered trends concerning women and finances:
- Across America, women control 51.3%, or $14 trillion, in personal wealth, and that figure is expected to grow to $22 trillion within the next decade.
- 95% of women will be their family’s primary financial decision maker at some point in their life
- 48% of all U.S. estates over $5 million are managed by women
They also studied their own donor profiles:
- In a nine-year period, Biola saw $40 million given—40% of it given by women
- Of the 40,000 donors on their list, 60% were women
- Of the $3.5 million in estate giving, 65% was done by women
“No matter where we looked,” says Greg Leith, Biola’s director of strategic alliances, “we saw women.”
An opportunity to grow
The team sensed there was more to uncover. As a result, Biola joined the first-ever survey on Christian women and giving, led by Women Doing Well. The key findings suggest:
- Christian women are significantly more generous than the average American
- Discipleship plays a major role in her generosity
- Women with a strong sense of purpose are more generous than those without
- Debt is the most commonly cited challenge to generosity
- Lack of clarity of personal purpose and financial planning are hurdles for “aspiring givers”
- Christian women want to be much more included in the organizations they support
- Traditional generosity resources are not reaching Christian women
The survey also highlighted a tremendous opportunity to help women grow in generosity. “I hadn’t thought about the elements that contribute to a generous woman—knowing her purpose, passion and plan,” says Ann. “We have a real opportunity to develop tools that fit the hand of a woman.”
Insights you can implement
What both Biola and Women Doing Well learned can help you as you pursue generosity within your own spheres of influence.
- Realize the need exists. Biola’s First Lady Paula Corey affirms the hole: “I didn’t know there were so many women out there who felt unfulfilled in their service or involvement in philanthropy.”
- Glean from the voices of women. Use the Women Doing Well survey as a launching point. The certified information gives you a standard from which you can draw out the thoughts of potential donors.
- Pray for a champion at a high level in your organization. “It’s really critical to have a strong advocate, preferably male, at a high level,” says Ann. “You really need a champion who could be a cross-cultural intermediary.”
- Invest in your volunteers. Include them early. Give them the ownership.
- Start small with great quality. Do a few key things each year. Then add to them.
- Don’t wait for full finances and staff. A program can be started with practically no budget and part-time staff.
- Develop a strategy document. This document provides parameters and guidelines that keep everyone aligned. Be sure to make it available to leaders and colleagues so they understand your plan.
- Small shifts can lead to big results. Addressing invitations and letters with women-specific opportunities to include women can surface new friends.
- Take the long view. Realize that funding is a fair metric, but it’s not the only one.
Learn more about engaging women in generosity when you attend a Women Doing Well event.
For more on this story, you can read our original post here.
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