Vote With Your Purse


What is Vote With Your Purse?

Vote With Your Purse is a nationally acclaimed research study that examines trends in women’s political giving and financial power, women’s political fundraising results in election years, as well as provides concrete ideas on how to tap the “power of the purse” for the 2012 elections and beyond. She Should Run has identified a historic opportunity to fundamentally change women’s approach to political giving.


Lesson Learned: Women, Money, and Politics in the 2010 Election Cycle.

While women’s votes have been critical in deciding federal elections since the 1980’s,  women still face significant barriers towards realizing equality in politics and public life. In 2010, our nation experienced the first backslide in electing more women to office in over 30 years. In the same year, it also experienced a decrease in women’s political giving, after securing very marginal increases in past elections.

She Should Run, working with the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), found that women still lag drastically behind men in political giving. In 2010, women made up just 26% of recorded federal political contributions to candidates, political action committees (PACs), and party committees. More importantly, this is down from 31% in the 2008 cycle and down from 30% in the 2006 cycle.

This report reveals a probable correlation between women’s political giving and their representation in Congress. It is telling that women’s political giving went down during the same cycle that women’s representation in Congress decreased. Our nation cannot afford these declines, given that women make up approximately 17% of Congress, yet represent over 50% of the population.

The time is ripe for women to increase their political giving to match their economic and voting power.

Key Findings

  • Only 27% of total contributions to individual candidates were made by women, representing a 6.3% decrease from 2008
  • If women voters across parties give as little as $5 to one female candidate, it would be enough to run a female candidate in every House race with a budget of over $1 million each.
  • In 2010, women made 30% of the total individual contributions to Democrats and just 25% of the total contributions to Republican candidates
  • Women made just 21% of the total contributions to PACs in 2010, down 1.8 percentage points from 2008
  • Women made 38% of the 2010 individual contributions to the Democratic National Committee, while women made 24% of contributions to the Republican National Committee
  • Despite the gender gap in political giving, female candidates are good fundraisers. In 2010, female House incumbents raised approximately $100,000 more than their male peers and female challengers raised over $74,000 more than male peers

Why Don't Women Give?

Data from past Vote with Your Purse reports explains women invest in political campaigns at lower rates because they do not think their money matters in showing support for a candidate and the issues they champion. Furthermore, women do not connect political leadership with positive, productive social change or view political giving as a civic responsibility.


Based on these findings, She Should Run has developed the following suggestions for candidates working to increase contributions from women donors:

  • Emphasize the impact they will have on specific issues 
  • Better inspire women by describing political giving as a civic or social responsibility, like voting or volunteering
  • Provide multiple sources of independent information about their platform
  • Include women in the process by making more transparent how the money will be used
  • Provide opportunities for women donors to interact with campaign supporters and staff, and, of course, the candidate

Download the Reports:

Vote With Your Purse: Lesson Learned: Women, Money, and Politics in the 2010 Election Cycle

Released: April 2012
Vote with Your Purse: Harnessing the Power of Women's Political Giving (Update)

Released: June 2009

Vote With Your Purse:
Harnessing the Power of Women's Political Giving for the 2008 Election and Beyond

Released: June 2007


Special Thanks

Vote With Your Purse would not have been possible without our donors, including among others:

  • Susie Tompkins Buell Foundation
  • The Honorable Swanee Hunt
  • Barbara Lee Foundation
  • Ms. Deborah  McManus
  • Ms. Connie K. Duckworth
  • Ariel Capital Management, LLC
  • Jewish Communal Fund

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