Lilly School Opens Fundraising Research Site To Public

Neighbors often have car envy, lawn envy, even patio envy and even child achievement envy. Leaders at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy want to add philanthropy envy to that list in hopes it will pump up donations and research about the process of giving.

The school today launched Generosity For Life, an interactive platform and resource on charitable giving, which allows a multifaceted look at American families’ generosity over time. The website visualizes and analyzes data from the school’s Philanthropy Panel Study (PPS), which tracks more than 9,000 individuals’ and families’ giving, volunteering, and factors that influence those practices (e.g., employment, health, marital status) throughout their lives.

The PPS is an ongoing longitudinal study of philanthropic behaviors and attitudes. Following the same individuals and families throughout their lives, PPS tracks giving, volunteering, and factors that influence philanthropic practices across generations. As the leading and most accurate resource for measuring generational giving and volunteering in the United States, the PPS creates a database of knowledge that inspires change.

The PPS is conducted every two years in partnership with the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research’s Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID). According to Una Osili, associate dean for research and international programs at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, the school’s giving and volunteering data since 2000 has been added to the PSID data, which has been collected since 1968.

The newest PPS results, according to Osili, show a broad and consistent decline in the percentage of households that give to charity since the early 2000s. In 2014, the latest year for which data are available, 55.51 percent of Americans households gave, a decrease of nearly 11 percent compared to the share that gave in 2000. There are several reasons for this decline, including the Great Recession, a decline in American religiosity, and demographic shifts.
While the actual dollars have increased since 2000, the U.S. population has likewise increased and giving has declined as a percentage of total households.

There are some areas where the percentage of households that give is holding steady, a similar percentage of wealthier and older respondents reported giving over time, for example. The dollar amount donated (in 2016 dollars) has remained fairly constant over time. The website and the PPS data include additional breakouts of giving participation and amounts given by a variety of demographic factors.

The website is built in WordPress and hosted by the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. The database being used is via SQL Server, said Adriene L. Davis Kalugyer, manager of public affairs for the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Construction was funded with support from the John Templeton Foundation. Users can access five new tools and resources on the website:

  • Give-O-Meter allows visitors to input their own demographic information and then compare their giving and volunteering habits to their peers’, allowing visitors to recognize and think about their own behaviors and look for areas for growth.
  • Generosity Maps allow users to see how people give across the country and filter the findings via several lenses, including geographic region, type of charity supported, age, and income.
  • Generosity Reports allow users to construct a detailed charitable profile of giving trends in the U.S., customizable by type of giving and geographic area.
  • Perspectives from real students offer parents and teachers the chance to review original story books and other school projects from children that convey the importance of generosity, and show that philanthropy can take many forms.

Unique lesson plans provide teachers with ready-made lessons for teaching students generosity and conveying the importance of giving back.

“The primary goal is to get data into more hands,” said Osili. It’s an attempt to use new tools for data access, she said.

Data from the two schools can track an individual, a family or subset of data with an approximately 2 percent attrition rate.

“There is still so much unknown about using technology to mobilize engagement,” she said with the human behavior component to giving and potential impact of Artificial Intelligence, social networks and relationships.