Elizabeth Dale, Seattle University
Elizabeth Dale, PhD

Elizabeth Dale, PhD
PhD, Philanthropic Studies
Director and Associate Professor, Nonprofit Leadership
Seattle University

Why is Fundraising Seen as Women’s Work?
The Fundraising Reader (1st Edition) | Routledge, 2023

Dale, E. J. (2017). Fundraising as women’s work? Examining the profession with a gender lens. International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing, 22(4), e1605.

I was so pleased to be included in the new book, The Fundraising Reader, which is an excellent compilation of both classic and contemporary work on fundraising approaches, theory, research, and practice. Its diverse and interdisciplinary sources reveal both the art and science of fundraising, with attention to the philosophical, prosocial, and motivational components as well as the more technical and applied.

The foundation of fundraising is based on interpersonal relations, skillful communication, and managing emotions and motivations, in essence, a set of job functions that personify “traditional” female characteristics and traits. Fundraising work mirrors a number of these so-called female occupational characteristics including a caring, relational approach; an emphasis on communication; a need to put others before yourself; and the production of events that draw on hospitality and entertaining-type skills. Within fundraising, the most economically rewarded tasks are those directly related to securing gifts at the highest dollar amounts. Finally, a gender analysis cannot ignore the recent trends of both nonprofits and funders to place greater emphasis on adopting more business-like practices and the values of the private sector, which reflect the masculine bias of society at large. In addition to values, the language of fundraising is also male-oriented.

Elizabeth J. Dale, Ph.D. is program director and associate professor in Nonprofit Leadership at Seattle University. A former development director and Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE), her research interests include social justice philanthropy, giving among women and LGBTQ+ donors, and the intersection of gender and philanthropy. She has presented her research nationally and internationally and has provided commentary for The New York Times, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, and The Guardian. She completed her Ph.D. in Philanthropic Studies at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and women’s and gender studies from Ohio Wesleyan University and a master’s degree in women’s studies from The Ohio State University.