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Women reshaping Canadian philanthropy, study shows

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Women are helping to reshape the Canadian philanthropic landscape and their charitable giving is expected to grow in coming years, according to a new study.

Research from Toronto-Dominion Bank and research group Investor Economics shows that Canadian women are more likely to make charitable donations than men, and tend to give a larger amount of their investable assets away.

Baby boomer women are in a position to inherit more wealth, especially since many have married older men and are likely to outlive them, the study said. This will put women in a position to make large charitable donations and plan family legacies.

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"You can see from the report how women are gaining in wealth – their life expectancy is greater than men, they're going to end up with the money at the end of the day … whether men like it or not." said Jo-Anne Ryan, vice-president of philanthropic advisory services in TD's wealth division. She added that as the number of female entrepreneurs, graduates and breadwinners rises, women will play an even larger part in the philanthropic landscape.

Canadian charitable giving has grown in recent years, with total donations up 69 per cent to $8.3-billion in the decade to 2012, according to the Canada Revenue Agency. But women and men are driven by different factors when deciding how they want to give their money away.

The study found that women put a greater emphasis on having an emotional connection to the not-for-profits they give to, and do more research in advance of donating. "We know that women make investment decisions differently than men, so we suspected that they probably make philanthropic decisions differently than men," Ms. Ryan said.

TD commissioned the study in part as a tool for advisers to better approach conversations about philanthropy with female clients. The bank's network of advisers incorporate charitable giving discussions into their wealth planning process.

"It was really to understand what motivated women, what are they looking for and how [advisers] can add value in relationships," said Sandy Cimoroni, chief operating officer at TD Wealth.

The study also highlights some of the characteristics women are looking for in their causes. Women want to have relationships with their charities, rather than be approached for one-time donations, the research found.

Women also want to see consolidation among the 87,000 registered charities in Canada so that there's less competition for donations. Since 68 per cent of Canadian women support no more than three causes each year, charities may benefit from teaming up on fundraising efforts.

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And much like the corporate world, charitable boards tend to be dominated by men – the study's respondents favoured more diversity among directors.

To reach new donors, charities should also reach out on social media because women populate websites such as Facebook and Twitter in higher numbers than men, the research found.

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