This story was originally published in the summer 2023 issue of the University of Georgia Magazine.
Former University of Georgia administrator and Georgia state legislator Louise McBee concluded her 1974 book, The American Woman, Who Will She Be?, by calling readers to action: “Now, the task is ours. It is up to us to plan and work for tomorrow and for the next generations. This is our responsibility, our challenge and our hope.”
This message is at the center of Georgia Women Give (GWG), a new, women-directed fundraising group inviting more women to become philanthropists and engage more deeply with UGA. And thus far, the message has resonated. In a matter of months, GWG has raised over $500,000–from both women and men–for scholarships, study abroad support and other UGA priorities.
GWG concentrates giving and increases impact by asking donors to designate their gifts to any of three specific funds: a merit-based scholarship fund, a study away support fund and an unrestricted fund that will send money to high-priority areas as directed by GWG’s executive committee.
“Women are ready for a group like this,” says Elizabeth Correll Richards, a UGA Foundation trustee and chair of the GWG executive committee. “Georgia Women Give brings together women of different ages, with different backgrounds, with different life goals all in support of this university that unites us all. We commit to UGA, but our commitment is more than financial. We want to connect with each other, learn from people on campus and–through forging those deep connections–feel fully invested in UGA.”
Focusing on women donors yields numerous benefits, and the data bears that out. A 2020 McKinsey & Company report found that women currently control roughly a third of total household financial assets in the U.S., but by 2030, women are expected to control much of the $30 trillion of baby boomer financial assets. And UGA regularly graduates thousands of women that GWG wants to provide a path to philanthropic impact.
Developing that pipeline is beneficial to UGA, but GWG’s end result benefits everyone. Research from the Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy found that women are both more likely than men to give to charity and more generous than men when they donate. Women in the top quarter of permanent income, for example, give 156% more to charity than their male peers.
Put simply, empowering women leads to greater giving, to better student outcomes leads and, ultimately, to a stronger future.
“There are so many women out there who have a strong affinity for UGA, who want to see this university and its students succeed,” says Jill Walton (BSA ’99, MPA ’03), UGA’s interim vice president for development and alumni relations. “Women’s presence and interest in the world of philanthropy is growing, and we need to ensure they have a path to support UGA that fits their lives and their interests.”
Just three months after the public launch of the initiative, GWG funds have already received over 50 commitments of $25,000 or more. To build on this momentum, the group is exploring innovative ways to encourage volunteers and donors at all levels moving forward.
“The early response has been fantastic,” says Correll Richards. “And if it’s any sort of indicator for our future, Georgia Women Give’s impact will be felt quickly, significantly, and enduringly.”