Guest Post: The women are giving!

Sara Blakely, the gutsy founder of a wildly successful business, Spanx, is the first woman billionaire to sign Buffett and Gates’ Giving Pledge. And she’s only 43 years old!

We all know that great wealth doesn’t wait for age 60 or so anymore. But what do we know about the wealthy women of the world or even just the U.S.? How can your organization find its own Sara Blakely?

In true entrepreneurial spirit, Blakely had a problem with pantyhose and set out to solve it. Here’s the condensed version of events:

  • 1998: Age 27 she used $5,000 to explore and invent new shape wear for women
  • 2000: Oprah Winfrey listed Spanx as one of her Favorite Things
  • 2001: She pitched her product on QVC and sold 8,000 pairs in the first six minutes
  • 2005: Became a contestant on The Rebel Billionaire: Richard Branson’s Quest for the Best
  • 2006: Launched the Sara Blakely Foundation
  • 2007: Handed Oprah Winfrey a $1 million check for her Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa
  • 2012: Graced the cover of Forbes magazine on the Billionaire List
  • 2013: Signed The Giving Pledge

What amazes me about Blakely is that from very early on she was thinking about giving her money away instead of waiting until she had “earned enough” to give away. The recent study commissioned by Yodlee Interactive is suggesting women need less money than men to feel wealthy. I think they are way off base; I suggest that women feel differently about money.

If you listen to Blakely’s interview at the Forbes 400 Summit, she tells us that her entrepreneurial drive has always focused on helping women. Money came along for the ride. Let that sink in for minute.

Not only has Blakely known from really early on that her goal in life is to help women, but she tells us in the Forbes 400 Summit interview that her relationship with Richard Branson has given her a mentor in business and philanthropy, and that joining The Giving Pledge gave her access to people who could teach her about philanthropy.

Blakely readily tells us the problems we can help her solve: how can she be a great philanthropist and how can she help women.

Here are two BIG takeaways the vocal dynamo Blakely tells us that can improve our prospect research and fundraising efforts:

  • Change your giving capacity calculations to account for women who are more likely to give sooner in their careers because they view wealth accumulation as a means to an end – that end being helping others.
  • Give women the opportunity to network with your top donors. Wealthy women, especially those earning the wealth, are time-pressed with work and family and want business and philanthropy mentors.

Sara Blakely’s philanthropy is in its very early stages, but I can’t help but cringe when she finds a mentor like Richard Branson instead of… maybe business superstar Jennifer Lopez or what about Jacki Zehner of Women Moving Millions?

Get ready. The women are giving!

~~

Written by Jennifer Filla

jenfillaAs CEO of the Prospect Research Institute, Jen Filla helps create and deliver the first-ever graded, online courses in prospect research in the fundraising industry. She is also a prospect researcher at Aspire Research Group.

Connect with Jennifer via:
Twitter | Enews | Web

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *