Show Her the Money

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Talk about insecurity. Almost one-third (29 percent) of the wealthiest women in America say they need more than $50 million in the bank to feel financially secure, compared with 4 percent of wealthy men who feel the same. An additional 48 percent of these well-off divas say then need $5 million to feel similarly safeguarded. These well-heeled female members of the upper crust are also philanthropic, feeling more compelled than their male counterparts to give their monetary leftovers to charity.

These insights come from a study entitled “Wealth and Women,� by Harris Interactive for HNW Inc., a New York City-based company that provides customer relationship management services to clients with a high net worth. The survey polled a nationally representative sample of approximately 3,500 adults, which included almost 400 wealthy women — defined as adults ages 21 and older with household incomes of $150,000 or more and at least $500,000 in assets (not including primary residence). Fieldwork was conducted in October and November of 2000, and the report was released in May 2001.

Sure, it's good to be rich, but if you thought the majority of wealthy women got that way through marriage, inheritance or by raiding the family trust, think again. Just 7 percent of America's most affluent women cite marriage as a source of wealth, 6 percent admit to inheriting their fortunes and 10 percent credit their trusts. Overwhelmingly, the majority of wealthy women get their dough from good old-fashioned work (53 percent) and smart investments (43 percent). These savvy women are also highly entrepreneurial: fully one-fifth (20 percent) are small-business owners, compared with 14 percent of affluent men. They are almost twice as likely to be self-employed than the boys (28 percent versus 15 percent), and more than three times more likely than all women in the U.S.

About a quarter (22 percent) of women in the wealth market say that one of the top three reasons they work is to be able to give back to their communities, while only 5 percent of rich men share similar sentiments. But what determines how these wealthy women dole out the loot? Eighty-six percent of women in this market say that feeling strongly about a cause triggers their interest in giving, compared with just 66 percent of men who say the same. More wealthy women than men also feel that giving is a moral imperative (47 percent versus 39 percent) and they are more swayed by personal ties: 46 percent of them give because a friend, family member or co-worker is involved with the charity, compared with 32 percent of men.

Affluent men, on the other hand, are more influenced by the tax and business benefits of giving. Forty percent of them say that tax and estate laws provide them with a huge incentive to give, and 42 percent donate money because it benefits both their business and community, compared with 25 percent and 29 percent of wealthy women, respectively. However, 71 percent of the gentlemen and 75 percent of the ladies say that the repeal of the estate tax will not have any effect on their giving habits. An additional 20 percent and 17 percent, respectively, say they are likely to give even more.

For more information, contact HNW Inc. at (212) 247-8899 ext. 241 or visit

Follow the Money Trail

A vast majority of wealthy women donated more time and money to health or medical charities (59 percent) in the past year, than any other type of organization. Wealthy men, on the other hand, are more inclined than women to give their dollars to arts or cultural organizations (39 percent versus 27 percent) and civil rights groups (21 percent versus 10 percent).


Wealthy Women* Wealthy Men* Total U.S.
Educational 54% 52% 30%
Children/youth 52% 52% 44%
Health and medical 59% 45% 40%
Religious/faith-based 45% 45% 49%
Homeless/low-income 46% 30% 35%
Disaster relief 30% 39% 24%
Arts/cultural 27% 39% 14%
Political/advocacy 27% 35% 14%
Disability 33% 30% 30%
Elderly/aging 29% 23% 21%
Animal rights 26% 22% 24%
Environmental 24% 21% 13%
Sports/recreational 22% 20% 16%
Women-oriented 26% 17% 14%
Civil rights 10% 21% 9%
Family planning/parenting 13% 8% 8%
None 2% 4% 7%
*“Wealthy� is defined in this study as adults ages 21 and older with household incomes of $150,000 or more and assets of $500,000 or more (not including primary residence).
Source: HNW Inc.
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