Most women are altruistically inclined, irrespective of economic status: A 2010 research conducted by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University showed single women are twice more likely to give to charity than single men.

Never-married and divorced women were more likely to give and to give more than males of the same marital status; however, widowed men gave more than widowed women.

In almost every income bracket, women give more than men. The most dramatic differences are in the lowest, middle, and highest brackets where women give almost double the amount.

Ask a woman to define her “wealth,” and chances are she’ll mention not only tangible assets, but also her core values, beliefs and commitments. And if you ask what she wants her legacy to be, the answer will often focus on those intangibles and the hope her money will go toward making a positive impact on issues she cares about. This is especially relevant for single women with no significant family ties.

Anna Nemeth, VP and Senior Portfolio Manager, TD Waterhouse Private Investment Counsel Inc., asks clients what causes are important: religion; education; environment; animal rights; or health care.

“If they say environment, I tell them here’s a list of three or four registered charities in British Columbia that focus on the environment. Then I leave it to them to do the research. I’d hate to pass along my personal biases,” she says.

Once her clients choose, Nemeth works with accountants to put tax strategies in place and help them channel money to charities of their choice. For example, she recommends donating securities with large capital gains that can fetch a large tax receipt.

The most tax-effective way to give to charity, says Nemeth, is to gift securities with large capital gains. Let’s say you currently have stock worth $100,000, which cost you $25,000. You’d have a $75,000 capital gain. But when you gift a stock that has a capital gain, there are no capital gains tax consequences. You’d get a charitable receipt for the full amount of the donation ($100,000_, and the charity would receive the money upfront.

If you’re trying to gauge your client’s interest, ask these questions to determine her goals:

  • What are your personal motivations for charitable giving?
  • What are your charitable interests?
  • What are your priorities?
  • What level of involvement do you want in identifying charitable uses for your gift?

Then determine the giving instrument that best fits their financial situation and tax status.