BKristi Knous | President, Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines

Women have long understood the value of giving back to the communities and causes they care about. The generous spirit and helping hands of women have been critical in developing the fabric of our community. But today women are giving more than time; we are controlling the dollars that support the organizations that mean the most to us. As the Community Vitality Center and Women's Philanthropy Institute shares, women's giving and social status was once tied to a husband's wealth, but while women were once known for giving of time and talent, we are now leading the way in the giving of treasure as well.

Women are a powerful force in wealth accumulation. According to Virginia Tech's Women in Leadership and Philanthropy program:

  • There are more than half a million women with personal incomes of $100,000 or more.
  • The number of wealthy women in the U.S. is growing twice as fast as the number of wealthy men.
  • Women represent more than 40 percent of all Americans with gross investable assets above $600,000.
  • 48 percent of estates worth more than $5 million are controlled by women, compared with 35 percent controlled by men.
  • Some estimate that by 2030, women will control as much as two-thirds of the nation's wealth.


These are indeed successes to be celebrated, but as we consider how to best maximize these assets we have worked so hard to achieve, how can we ensure the legacy of women as givers includes giving of treasure as well?

  • Give beyond the checkbook: Most of us are used to supporting our favorite causes by writing a check or giving a gift of cash. While a generous gift, this may not be the one best suited to meet your overall financial goals. Gifts of appreciated stock, real estate, or IRA distributions may provide unique tax advantages for you personally, while still meeting your giving goals.

  • Simplify your giving: We have all been there; it is the end of the year and your mailbox is filling with requests from wonderful organizations who are seeking your generous support. Remembering who you have supported and for what amount can be a lot to manage, but there is an alternative. A charitable giving fund at the Community Foundation acts like a charitable savings account that allows you to contribute assets to your fund when it makes sense for you and then make gifts from your fund to the causes you care about, knowing the administrative details are taken care of.

  • Leave a legacy: You are already creating your legacy through your professional and personal accomplishments, but consider how you can continue your charitable legacy beyond your lifetime. By carefully considering your overall financial picture, you can determine the assets that are best suited for passing on to support your family and those that can best support the causes you care about for generations to come.

We have come a long way, ladies, and the exciting part is that we are just getting started. Think of the possibilities and the positive impact we can have on our communities, our country and our world when we make giving back part of our financial plans. Now that is a force for good.

Kristi Knous is president of the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, where she leads the work of the Community Foundation in promoting charitable giving, connecting donors with causes they care about and providing leadership on important community issues. Knous received the Forty Under 40 Alumnus of the Year Award in 2015, has been honored with the Drake MPA program Distinguished Alumna Award for Outstanding Community Service and was named a Woman of Influence in 2010. Knous and her husband, Lauren, have two adult children, Abbey and Jonah.