After 2020, women’s commitment to charitable giving reached new heights, while men closed the gender gap

Women led in volunteerism; prioritized hunger, health, shelter and affordable housing

But women less likely to use tax-efficient charitable strategies or discuss giving with a financial advisor  


BOSTON, June 23, 2021 – While women have always been highly active and engaged in giving back, a new study about 2021 Women and Philanthropy by Fidelity Charitable depicts how the pandemic took many donors’ generosity to even higher levels. Before the pandemic, three-quarters of women said that charitable giving was an important part of their lives, compared to 69 percent of men. But the events of 2020 inspired a renewed sense of generosity, with the number of women who said giving is important rising 9 points to 84 percent. However, the greater leap occurred among men, with 81 percent saying charitable giving was important to them in 2021—a sharp 12-point increase. In addition, 43 percent of men said they gave notably more to charity in 2020 than they had the previous year, compared to 34 percent of women.  

“Women will continue to lead charitable giving decisions in many households, but the innate desire to make a difference in the world is more apparent than ever in all donors,” said Pamela Norley, president of Fidelity Charitable. “Men and women still engage in giving very differently, and there are ways that women can do even more.”

Eighty-six percent of women said they wish they could do more to create positive social change, and they participated in many giving activities at higher rates than men, including volunteerism. Two-thirds (67 percent) of women reported volunteering recently compared to 56 percent of men. More women made non-financial gifts, bought from socially responsible businesses or donated through social media or online giving platforms. Women were also more likely than men to rank hunger (45 percent vs. 34 percent), access to basic health services (34 percent vs. 27 percent) and access to shelter or affordable housing (22 percent vs. 16 percent) as one of the top challenges facing the world.

Charitable opportunities for women

Despite participating in many giving activities at higher rates, women were less likely than men to be aware of or engage in many financial strategies that could enable greater impact. For example, only 17 percent of women made an impact investment—the practice of making purposeful investments that generate financial returns, while also helping to achieve social or environmental benefits—compared to a quarter of men.

Similarly, among women who owned stocks or bonds, 35 percent were unaware that these assets can be donated to charity—a strategy that potentially minimizes the donor’s tax burden and enables them to make a larger donation.

This knowledge gap is a prime opportunity for financial advisors to engage with women clients on a topic that is important to them. However, only 14 percent of women have spoken with a financial advisor about charitable planning strategies, compared to 20 percent of men.

Millennials driving change

Generational change is quickly shifting the philanthropic landscape—but not necessarily closing the gender gap related to charitable planning strategies. Millennials of either gender were more likely than the average donor population to have engaged in newer forms of giving back, from supporting socially responsible businesses to donating through social media. However, Millennial women still lagged their male counterparts in adopting charitable investment strategies, like impact investing or microloans. And younger men were much more likely to have discussed philanthropic strategies with an expert. One-in-three Millennial men have had a charitable planning conversation with a financial advisor, compared to 19 percent of Millennial women.

To read the full report, visit: Fidelity Charitable 2021 Women and Giving study.

Methodology: Artemis Strategy Group, an independent research firm, conducted a research study on behalf of Fidelity Charitable about donor motivations and behaviors. In March 2020, 3,055 adults in the U.S. who donated at least $1,000 to charity in 2019 were surveyed. A follow-up January 2021 survey among 830 philanthropic individuals in the U.S. who donated at least $1,000 to charity in 2020 detected shifts in donor thinking due to the events of that year.

About Fidelity Charitable

Fidelity Charitable is an independent public charity that has helped donors support more than 328,000 nonprofit organizations with $51 billion in grants. Established in 1991, Fidelity Charitable launched the first national donor-advised fund program. The mission of the organization is to grow the American tradition of philanthropy by providing programs that make charitable giving accessible, simple, and effective. For more information about Fidelity Charitable,  Visit

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