subscribe to our newsletter sign up

Who funds the world? Millennials and women


Women make up more than 70 per cent of the world’s donors, with demographic shifts and greater wealth to thank.

That’s according to Australian Unity Trustees. Speaking in the lead up to International Women’s Day, held today, executive general manager at Australian Unity Trustees Emma Sakellaris noted that while Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg occupy the public consciousness when it comes to famous philanthropists, it’s actually women who are “really moving the dial on philanthropy”.

According to the 2017 Global Trends in Giving Report, 73 per cent of the world's donors are women.

Commenting on this, she said, “There are both social and demographic changes at play here. For instance, although life expectancy is increasing for both men and women in developed countries, women are still living longer than men. As such, they are likely to inherit twice – from their parents, and then from their spouse.”


Ms Sakellaris said that in addition to this, more women are now working for much longer.

“The result is that more women now control more wealth personally than at any other time in history – and they have the knowledge and confidence to direct how it should be spent,” she said.

Interestingly, it showed that single women were more likely to donate – and donate more than their male counterparts.

This could be because single women tended to derive more pleasure from the act of giving than single men.

“Women also give to more organisations than men, to act collaboratively in their philanthropy, and to ‘pool’ their giving with others,” Ms Sakellaris continued.

“Also, women often seek to become involved in the causes they support, perhaps by volunteering, so we often see long-term relationships developing between female philanthropists and particular causes.”

Wills and estates accredited specialist at Australian Unity Trustees Anna Hacker added that, in her experience, women – when writing their estate plan – are becoming more excited about charitable giving.

Continuing, she said that this can often be in the form of a sub-trust which funds smaller, and often more local, projects.

Ms Hacker said, “It's actually about funding the little possum project in the local wildlife reserve; it's about really grassroots things.

“I think that's coming up because of GoFundMe-type giving as well people are looking at things where they can really make a difference, not just give to someone else to do something. They want to have a lot more control.”


According to Ms Sakellaris, there’s a trend towards more transparency around philanthropic activities, and this is being driven by younger generations.

She noted that historically, Australians have preferred to donate anonymously. However, the advent of social media has meant people are more likely to promote their charitable giving, while prompting others to follow their lead.

This trend is particularly prevalent among Australia’s younger generations.

Ms Sakellaris said, “Mediums such as ‘selfies’, status updates, videos and ‘local hero’ style fundraising is becoming commonplace and, for the Millennial generation, is a natural part of sharing their life story online.

“We are even seeing crowd-funding to support others and help meet basic individual needs such as medical care and funeral costs.”

Who funds the world? Millennials and women
nestegg logo
subscribe to our newsletter sign up
Recommended by Spike Native Network
Neil - I retired about a year ago and now I've got less income than I planned for. Can I sue my financial planner?....
Joe - Agree with Terry Dwyer. The really nasty part is the way it will hit self funded retirees (through their SMSF in many cases) who have direct shares.......
John - Not sure loss of 30% of income is something I just let go. Options I will be doing is investing overseas, local and international REITs and seeing if.......
Dr Terry Dwyer, Dwye... - I am amazed by these comments. The effects will be subtle but pervasive. It will have a huge effect on superannuitants in pension mode as with low.......