The latest version of the Women & Girls Index (WGI), downloadable and searchable on this site, provides data from circa fiscal year 2019 - the most recent year for which more than 99% of finalized IRS data on charitable organizations was available as of January 2022. Previous or subsequent fiscal year information was used when 2019 data was unavailable.
Several data sources form the basis of the WGI, the most important of which are e-file Internal Revenue Service (IRS) data available on Amazon Web Services that provide details for 338,514 charitable organizations filing IRS Forms 990 and 990-EZ electronically circa fiscal year 2019. These data were supplemented with 70,088 digitized Form 990 paper returns provided by Candid (formerly GuideStar) and 8,994 Form 990 and 990-EZ returns from IRS Return Transaction Files (RTF). For organizations not filing an IRS Form 990 or Form 990-EZ, a combination of 562,833 charitable organizations filing Form 990-N and 414,648 “non-filing” registered charitable organizations were used to gather further information on typically smaller and religious organizations, for a total population of 1,395,077 registered 501(c)(3) domestic charitable organizations. Non-filing organizations are defined as registered tax-exempt organizations that did not file any type of Form 990 between the fiscal years ending in 2017 and 2019, most of which are religion-related charitable organizations exempt from annual 990 filing requirements.
To be included in the WGI, organizations must either be:
• Dedicated to serving primarily women and girls (for example, Planned Parenthood and Girls Inc.), or
• A collective of women and girls that serves general philanthropic purposes (for example, Junior League and women’s auxiliaries).
These criteria may seem straightforward, but measuring giving to women and girls is quite challenging since many charitable organizations have multiple programs that serve different populations. As such, the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) exercised a certain degree of judgment in creating the WGI. For example, organizations that mainly serve survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault are included in the Index. While men, boys, and non-binary individuals are also impacted by domestic violence and sexual assault, the vast majority of those who receive services from organizations dedicated to these issues are women and girls. On the other hand, organizations that serve a relatively equal number of women and men and boys and girls, as well as non-binary individuals, are not included in the WGI. Boys & Girls Clubs and Big Brothers Big Sisters, for instance, are excluded because the majority of their programming is designed for youth of all genders.
Informed by a review of the relevant literature and published organization listings, the researchers developed initial sets of inclusionary words and phrases (key words), exclusionary words and phrases (stop words), and other selection criteria to establish logical “rules” to identify potential women’s and girls’ organizations for the inaugural Index in 2019. Generating the final set of nearly 100 rules was an iterative process. Initial sets of rules were first applied to organizations’ names, mission statements, and other identifiers. Manual verification of a random sample of the results led to modification of the initial rules and the creation of new rules. For most rules in the final set, a minimum of 100 organizations were hand-checked to confirm the accuracy of at least 80% of the organizations captured through each unique combination of key words, stop words, and other criteria.
Following the verification process developed in 2019, the final set of rules were applied to the full population of charitable organizations for multiple years (2012–2019), resulting in an expanded set of 60,436 WGI organizations in 2022. The difference between this number of organizations on the full WGI list and the 48,395 organizations identified in the analysis of 2019 data are organizations that are present in another year of the data but lack information for 2019. In total, approximately 12,515 possible organizations were hand-checked from 2019 to 2022, including verification of more than 90% of total WGI revenue and assets. Of those organizations, 846 were hand-checked for the updated 2022 Index, with priority given to those organizations with larger contributions, revenue, expenses, or assets.
The final set of WGI rules and their sequencing are available upon request. The rules generally fall into the following 16 categories (exclusionary rules not shown):
• General women’s health
• Reproductive health and family planning
• Family and gender-based violence
• Women’s and girls’ education
• Women’s and girls’ human services
• Gender equality and employment
• Women serving women and girls
• Women’s and girls’ international
• Women serving the general population
• Women’s and girls’ sports, recreation, and youth development
• Women’s and girls’ civil rights and advocacy
• Women’s and girls’ public-society benefit
• Women’s and girls’ religion
• Women’s and girls’ arts and culture
• Women’s and girls’ environment and animals
• General women and girls
To measure philanthropic support for WGI organizations, the direct support value was used for charitable organizations filing IRS Forms 990 (Part VIII, Lines 1b, 1c and 1f). Total contributions, gifts, and grants were used for organizations filing Form 990-EZ (Part I, Line 1). A direct contribution per organization estimate for each filing was used for those filing Forms 990-N (based on the average direct support value among Form 990 and Form 990-EZ filing organizations with less than $50,000 in revenue for the same filing year). No direct support estimate was used for non-filers.
Despite extensive effort, there are certain caveats to the research due to the subjective nature of identifying and classifying organizations dedicated to women and girls, as well as data and resource limitations. While more than 90% of the total revenue represented in the Index was manually verified, the majority of WGI organizations were selected and categorized by rules alone, and therefore subject to rule errors. Additionally, organizations were only hand-checked for inclusion in the Index, not for alignment with the specific rule categories. The researchers expect error rates to be minimal, but these factors could potentially affect the accuracy of dollar estimates for the Index and the rule categories.
The datasets used to generate the WGI do not include financial data on religious congregations or any data on private foundations, although efforts were made in 2020 to verify that private foundations primarily supporting women’s and girls’ organizations are limited. The Index tracks total philanthropic support for WGI organizations; the data cannot be disaggregated by funding source (e.g., individuals, foundations, corporations). Although WPI recognizes the importance of intersectional identities, the data on WGI organizations also cannot be disaggregated based on more specific demographics (e.g., women and girls of color, LGBTQ+ women and girls, women and girls with disabilities).
WPI asks that the following citation accompany any use of the WGI research: Women’s Philanthropy Institute, Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and DataLake Nonprofit Research. (2022). Women & Girls Index [Data file]. www.womenandgirlsindex.org