Women continue to make a difference across every industry. One industry particularly deserving of our attention during the holiday season is the nonprofit sector. These organizations aim to take care of the less-fortunate during these tough months. Others make one final push to boost their donations by the end of the year. Now is the perfect time to take a closer look at this industry as a whole. What does it look like for women who work in this industry?


Women make up an astounding 75% of the industry’s workforce. This is thought to be in part because of women’s eagerness to make a difference. Another contributing factor seems to be work-life balance. The overall perception of nonprofits is that they offer more flexibility when it comes to hours and vacation time. These things alone act as a huge draw for women juggling work, family, and everything in between.

Despite its perceived perks, the industry isn’t free from the same issues plaguing women throughout every profession. Men continue to hold a majority of the leadership roles throughout the industry. Seventy-nine percent (79%) of the CEO positions for nonprofits with $25 million or more in assets are held by men. This statistic is not for lack of women seeking leadership roles. A recent report found 57% of women in the nonprofit sector aspire to rise to the position of CEO.

In an industry like the one we just described, who are the female leaders to look to for inspiration?


Iris Rave and Jane Saccaro (Camp Kesem) – This organization aims to bring joy to the lives of children whose parents are battling cancer. This nonprofit was started in 2000 by Iris Rave and has since expanded to over 100 chapters in 40 states across the country. The organization continues today under the leadership of CEO Jane Saccaro.

Leila Janah and Shivani Garg Patel (Samahope) – Recognizing the lack of access to basic surgical care across the globe, Leila Janah and Shivani Garg Patel founded Samahope in 2012. The organization has engaged over 3,000 donors and changed the lives of over 6,000 patients worldwide.

Reshma Saujani (Girls Who Code) – The future of the job market is heavily based in technology. Despite this fact, fewer than 1 in 5 computer science graduates are women. Seeing the gender gap in the tech industry, Reshma Saujani set out to make some changes. Her organization reaches into schools and communities to create learning opportunities for young girls to learn more about tech. By the end of 2017, they will have reached 40,000 girls across all 50 states.

You can check out a list of other impressive women leading nonprofits here and here. The list is long, but not as long as we would like. The 57% of women waiting in the wings to lead these organizations are capable. As with everything, it’s going to take the support of the women around them. If you’re looking for an organization to donate to this holiday season, do your research and consider organizations run by women. When we support one another, we start to break down walls and change the status quo.