Women and millennials setting the benchmark for charitable giving: Australian Unity Trustees

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Emma Sakellaris


Women are playing an increasingly significant role in philanthropy and charitable giving, with statistics showing that donors worldwide are predominately female (73 percent).

“Although we tend to think of men as the major philanthropists of our time, such as Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg, it is in fact women who are really moving the dial on philanthropy around the world,” says Emma Sakellaris, executive general manager at Australian Unity Trustees.

“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.

“In addition, the shift in the workforce over the last generation means more and more women have worked through a greater portion of their adult life.

“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.”

Ms Sakellaris says that research has shown that single women are more likely to give to charity, and that they tend to give higher amounts than single men.

“Interestingly, it seems that the more such women give, the happier they become, unlike single men.”

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

“For instance, women are likely to give to nearly every charitable subsector, with the main outliers being sport and recreation, compared to men.

“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.”

She said another interesting trend, driven by younger generations, is that people are becoming more transparent about their philanthropic activities.

“In the past, Australians tended to be quite anonymous about their charitable giving.  However social media has become a key influencer and there is a move towards people promoting their charitable giving and motivating others to give – particularly amongst younger people.

“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,” Ms Sakellaris says.

Australian Unity Trustees was established in 2017 to provide a range of trustee services to all Australians including: estate planning; executor appointments and estate administration; financial attorney; financial and legal administration; and the establishment and management of personal, native title, community and charitable trusts. It is the first traditional trustee financial services licence issued since the establishment of a national licensing framework for traditional trustee activities.