Women Give Back: Why the Rising Number of Women Entrepreneurs is Good for Charity

It has been noted that women now comprise over half of the private sector workforce and women are increasingly becoming a force to be reckoned with in the entrepreneurial sector as well.

In fact, it is estimated that women own one-third of all small businesses and the Small Business Administration said earlier this year that women-owned businesses "are one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy."


The rise in women-run businesses bodes well for philanthropic causes. A recent study conducted by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University found that women of every tax bracket are more likely to donate to charity, and women entrepreneurs are no exception. In fact, a survey conducted by Wobwire.com (a newswire for women-owned businesses) found that nearly three-quarters of women-run businesses donate to charitable causes.

There are famous examples that bear out these statistics. Fashion designer, mother and entrepreneur Tory Burch launched her Foundation in 2009, which helps provide financial assistance to low income and minority women entrepreneurs. Dina Manzo, interior decorator and former New Jersey Housewife, supports pediatric cancer research including through her foundation, Project Ladybug.


But philanthropic women entrepreneurs are everywhere - those outside the celebrity spotlight are perhaps lesser known but no less impressive.

For example, when Julia Starrs, a New York mom and fashionista, started her home show business years ago - featuring trendy bags and apparel - she was thrilled to be able to work in fashion while still being home full-time for her two young sons. Then, Julia was asked by a client to help raise money for the client's friend's 2-year old granddaughter, who was terminally ill. It was this heart-breaking story that led Julia to start Hopeful Stars (Fashion for A Cause).

Now, Hopeful Stars raises money for charities across the country by organizing home shows and fundraising events, selling beautiful apparel and accessories, including items - like the Yummie Tummie line - that have been featured in the fashion mags and even selected as one of "Oprah's Favorite Things." And through her business, Julia focuses her attention on "grassroots charities." Amazingly, Julia gives up to 30% of her profits back to charity.

Consider also Carla Dickinson who founded Text Message Baby in 2008, to market her clever "text" designs on baby tee-shirts and onesies, made exclusively of certified organic cotton. It should come as no surprise that this company marketing "green" merchandise has a social conscience. Dickinson supports local charities in her home state of Florida with donations from her proceeds.

And how about Jeannie Heilman Richardson? Formerly a VP Creative Director with Leo Burnett Worldwide, the advertising agency with such power clients as McDonald's, Nintendo, Hallmark, and Coca-Cola, Jeannie left the glamorous field of advertising after the birth of her third son (three years ago) and started her own creative endeavour, MeArt.

MeArt is original artwork, based on consumers' photos or artwork. Through MeArt, Jeannie is able to support children's enrichment in the arts through proceeds and with artwork which she donates to preschools, grade schools and institutions with children's art programs.

Is it important for consumers that the businesses they patronize give back? A 2010 often-cited report from Cone LLC found that 90 percent of consumers want businesses to tell them how they are supporting outside causes.

What do you think?