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Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University

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February 8, 2011

State-by-State Giving

- Does geography play a role in charitable giving?

- Do states with more nonprofit organizations give more?

- Do state income taxes affect rates of giving?

The researchers at The Center on Philanthropy bring you analysis of these and other questions about state-by-state giving in Giving USA’s newest Spotlight on philanthropy entitled, “Factors Associated with State-by-State Differences in Charitable Giving.”

The 9-page newsletter provides fundraisers with insight into the giving patterns of Americans by state. Charitable itemization rates and amounts provide the starting point for this research.

For more information, see the full description of this report on the Store tab at the Giving USA reports website.

Note: the research in this report is focused on taxpayers earning greater than $75,000 per year.

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February 2, 2011

What’s All the Fuss About “Women’s Philanthropy?”

If you take a look at the latest publications out from Giving USA, you will find a new Spotlight on Women that offers insight on women’s influence and their choices, when it comes to philanthropy.  (Note to Fundraisers:  this includes information on what NOT to do when it comes to developing women as donors to your organization.)

The Modern Philanthropist

But, you may ask, what’s all the fuss about differentiating “women’s philanthropy?” After all, when asked to name philanthropists, most people immediately respond with the names of men, e.g., Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Bono. And no one has bothered to update the Wikipedia entry for Philanthropy with any women under the section entitled “Modern Philanthropists.” But perhaps we should.

21st Century Philanthropy

The answer to “all the fuss” is that times have changed, and women may hold the key to philanthropy in the 21st century. According to research from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, this is the case not just in the U.S., but worldwide; and it is not just high net worth women we are talking about, but all women.

Access Offers More Opportunities for Giving

Demographics and research support women’s increasing influence, capacity, and desire to sit at the philanthropic table. Education and income are two key predictors of philanthropic behavior. Since the early 1970s women have gained more access to both. Women’s changing roles in society – single longer, fewer children, higher paying jobs – augment their ability for philanthropy.

In the years 1970 to 2007 the percentage of women whose education is greater than their spouse’s increased from 20 to 28 percent.  As women attain higher educational levels, their salaries have increased and they hold more managerial and professional positions. The percentage of wives whose earnings top their spouses has increased 18 percentage points, from 4 to 22 percent in the years from 1970 to 2007. Often the reason why women are not at the philanthropic table is that they are not included in the discussions about giving nor are they asked to give.

What Women Give

A recent study by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, Women Give 2010 and the latest Spotlight on Women complement each other. The WPI study addressed the question:  “Are there differences in giving to charity between men and women across income levels?” Examining giving by single men and women across five different income groups, ranging roughly from $23,000 to $100,000+ a year, the study shows that women at virtually every income level are more likely to give to charity and to give more money on average than their male counterparts. The Spotlight debunks several myths about women as donors, including desire for recognition, size of the gifts made by women, and the reasons (emotional vs. business-focused) women have for giving.

Your Opportunity to Take Part

Here is an opportunity to expand your horizons when it comes to women in leadership and women in philanthropy. Consider attending the Center on Philanthropy’s symposium, Women World Wide Leading through Philanthropy on March 10 and 11 in Chicago. Find out how this burgeoning phenomenon in the U.S. is becoming evident around the world.

Thanks to the Women’s Philanthropy Institute for their part in this post for Giving USA.

Check out the Spotlight on Women as Philanthropists (please scroll down for the description).

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January 25, 2011

The Guru Has Left the Building

For the last 10 years, I’ve enjoyed serving as the managing editor of Giving USA. It has also been fun stepping into my “alter ego” as the “GUSA Guru” on Twitter (@gusaguru) to share with you the latest and greatest information on giving.

To every thing there is a season, and I’m turning now to a new adventure.  In fact, I am writing this farewell post to you from the brand new “world headquarters” of Melissa S. Brown & Associates, LLC (  Creating my own business is an exciting new venture for me, and I know I have your good wishes as I explore new territory.

I can be confident in my new direction because I know that I’ve left Giving USA in excellent hands.  Giving USA’s Editorial Review Board and Advisory Council on Methodology, two extremely impressive groups of experts in philanthropy, will continue to provide their guidance so that the publication remains the authoritative and user-friendly source of information about giving.  And at the Center on Philanthropy, Dr. Una Osili, director of research; Eva E. Aldrich, interim managing editor; and Melanie McKitrick, assistant managing editor, are already hard at work leading the team of researchers that will bring you Giving USA 2011, which launches in June.

So while one of the players is changing, Giving USA 2011 remains the same high-quality resource on which you’ve come to rely.  The Guru may have left the building, but Giving USA is here to stay.

Thanks for reading.


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January 13, 2011

New at Giving USA Reports

Take a look at the latest offerings from Giving USA:

Spotlight on Women as Philanthropists

Have you ever wondered what NOT to do when cultivating women as donors to your organization? This is one of the topics included in the latest Spotlight newsletter, Women as Philanthropists. The 10-page newsletter also provides you with engagement strategies and suggestions for developing women into long-term donors.

Giving to Public-Society Benefit Organizations

The final topical digest in Giving USA 2010′s lineup about giving to specific causes, Giving to public society benefit organizations is a “catch-all” of sorts. However, it covers some very important areas of giving:

- funds collected by United Ways, Jewish federations and free-standing donor advised funds (not community foundations, which are included in Giving by foundations);

- information on charitable gift fund contributions;

- leadership organizations.

The 10-page publication also documents public-society benefit organizations’ important role in coordinating responses to the challenges created by the Great Recession.

Upcoming in 2011:

The first Giving USA Spotlight, an annual survey of state laws, is scheduled to be published on February 28. You may pre-order this publication in the Giving USA Store.

We are exploring a print-on-demand product for those  missing the hard-copy version of Giving USA. If this is you, please make your wishes known through posting to this blog or by emailing us at We may be able to include you in the initial phase exploring publication of the 2010 version of the product.

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November 30, 2010

Why Millennials are important now for your organization’s future

Who are the Millennials and What Will They Give?  Born around 1981, the Millennial generation comprises about 20% of the U.S. population and 1/3 of the workforce.

A couple of years ago, philanthropy advisor Sean Stannard-Stockton alerted the sector that “The Millennials are Coming” and told us about their penchant for volunteering in this blog post.  Many nonprofits began watching and it didn’t take long to see how these social citizens were ignited to act.

We saw a first wave of giving from this generation in response to the Haitian earthquake. Stepping into the limelight hand-in-hand was mGive, the mobile text message method for giving that the Millennials embraced. Fundraisers saw that the status quo simply wasn’t going to fit this new generation.

Since January 2010, a great deal of information began to hit the Net from researchers exploring Millennials’ civic engagement, giving levels, and the communication methods they prefer.

The Giving USA researchers here at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University did the first study of Millennial motivations for giving in 2008 and continue that tradition with more analysis.

To help fundraisers and others interested in engaging young people, the researchers for Giving USA summarized these reports about Millennial giving and added some new data analysis. In this second of the Spotlight series on giving, Charitable Giving and the Millennial Generation, nonprofit professionals will find advice on how to reach Millennials now, in order to establish the relationships needed to bring these young people into the long-term fold of their organization.

Boomers currently give the most and make up the largest share of all donations. However, planning ahead for members of Gen X as they hit peak earning years and for the Millennials—close behind—is crucial to continued support for nonprofit organizations. Providing meaningful engagement for members of this high-energy generation just starting careers will be vital in the coming decade.

These next ten years or so will be a period of transition, as professionals at nonprofit organizations adopt and adapt to new communication tools, listen – really listen – to donors of all ages to hear what they prefer, and develop systems that allow them to offer every donor or volunteer a positive and personal connection with their work.

Perhaps the best advice for nonprofits is to engage people of all ages and experiences as trusted advisors. In the end, nonprofit professionals need to work with their own group’s donors and prospective donors. And they might — or might not – fit within the general trends found in this research.

* Some of the other reports on Millennials include:

Pew Research Center’s Millennials: A Portrait of Generation Next

Convio’s The Next Generation of American Giving (registration required)

Achieve and Johnson, Grossnickle and Associates’ Millennial Donors: A Study of Millennial Giving and Engagement Habits

The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University for Campbell & Company’s Generational Differences in Charitable Giving and in Motivations for Giving.

Happy reading!


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October 19, 2010

Finding a Foundation “Fit”

Building relationships with foundation program officers (or if there are no staff, board members) is appropriate, but needs to done with the mindset of finding a good match.

Even though foundations face a requirement to give money away, there is no obligation to support any one particular program or charity. Foundations give to charities that help it meet its own goals for change. Identify foundations where your goals and their goals overlap.

Not sure where to find that info? Here are a couple of sources:

990 PF tax forms – find them on Guidestar

Grantmaker directories

- Foundation Center

- Directories published by associations of grantmakers, like this one from Indiana Grantmakers Alliance.

Remember to look at the following, in addition to interest area:

- typical grant size — if you a small organization, a foundation that gives away mostly six dollar figure grants is probably not a good fit

- type of support — bricks and mortar grantmakers (albeit rare these days) probably won’t fund for public relations efforts, for instance

- timing — the foundation’s grant cycle must fit into the schedule for your organization’s project

- evaluation requirements — make sure your organization will have the capacity to meet measurement and evaluation requirements of any grants requested

If you would like more information about foundation giving, check out the Giving USA 2010 topical digest (just released), Giving by Foundations.

Read the Guidelines and Stick to Funders that Fit

Understanding, respecting and following guidelines and application procedures is key for building relationships with funders. The most frequent reason program officers give for not funding proposals is that the request did not meet the foundation’s guidelines.

The Foundation Center has a nifty form to help you line up information about your project and a prospective funder side by side. Go a step further, and request the foundation’s guidelines or get them from the foundation’s own website.

Review the grants given by the prospective funder. You might look like a good match according to published information, but once you see the recent grants made, you might decide that another funder would be a more likely partner in your work.

Eventually this economy will recover, and with it, foundation assets will again grow. Now is a great time to cultivate foundation staff (or if no staff, board members), so that your organization’s work is already known and understood once the foundation returns to a stronger program of grantmaking.

Thanks for reading,


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October 13, 2010

New requests to unfamiliar foundations: Not never, but not now

Did you know that now is not a good time to be submitting proposals to foundation funders with whom your organization has not previously worked? Here’s why:

Although it is always good to be cultivating relationships with foundations, they—alone among donors—have certain requirements about how much they give away. Otherwise, they face excise taxes on their assets. 

To meet these requirements, foundations (not community foundations, but private) can average their assets over time. Typical timeframes selected are 12 or 20 quarters (3 or 5 years).  Because of this, grantmaking from private foundations is likely to remain low at least another year, as the really bad years of stock market performance (2008 and 2009) remain part of the averaging process.

Thanks for taking time to read this blog. Other topics are already in the works, so more will be coming soon.

If you would like to add your comment every now and then, that would be great. I would love to make you part of the conversation.


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September 4, 2010

Timely publishing: Giving to International Affairs

In the past few weeks, the world has been called upon to respond to the needs of millions of people after flooding in Pakistan. Although giving has started out slowly (NPR story)–just $25.3 million to 25 nonprofit organizations, according to internal sources here at the Center on Philanthropy, support is still flowing from those concerned about humanitarian needs. But many are asking if aid to Pakistan has been enough. A Pakistan Relief Fund has been established by the U.S. Department of State and the media has been focusing on this issue. Here is an example from the September 6, 2010 broadcast of PBS News Hour, featuring Patrick M. Rooney, Ph.D., executive director of the Center on Philanthropy.

Philanthropy in response to disasters across countries is not well understood, mainly due to measurement challenges. However, we do have means of differentiating responses. In comparison to giving after other disasters, here is where Pakistan stood at the 5-week point:

Hurricane Katrina 2005 – $1.9 billion
Sept. 11th 2001 – $1.1 billion
Tsunami Relief 2004/2005 – $900 million
Haiti 2010 – $900 million
Pakistan 2010 – $25 million

Total charitable donations to the Pakistan 2005 earthquake in Kashmir were approximately $150 million.

As of August 30, 2010, an American Red Cross text messaging campaign for Pakistan had yielded $10,000 vs. the $32 million collected from texting donations in the weeks after Haiti.

The Center on Philanthropy’s Director of Research, Una Okonkwo Osili, Ph.D. advises in general that donors be aware of the complexities of international grantmaking, including the necessity of performing due diligence on the organization you choose to fund. Guidestar has a robust data base of information available online. The Council on Foundations also has many fine resources about international grantmaking at this link.  You will find additional Council resources available here. In addition, you may wish to read or listen to Dr. Osili’s comments about giving to Pakistan that were broadcast on NPR this week.

Report Released on Giving to International Affairs

Giving USA 2010 has just released its newest topical digest:  Giving to International Affairs.  One of the sections in that report summarizes giving in 2009 for natural and other disasters. A major resource for that section is Interaction: A United Voice for Global Change, which posts information about its 180 member organizations and where they are working. The list of organizations working in Pakistan appears at this area of the site. A number of members of Interaction are active in China, which also is reeling after recent flooding.

International affairs giving is an area that has seen some of the fastest rates of growth of all of the subsectors tracked by Giving USA. According to the Center on Philanthropy’s continuing research, Americans have given $1.4 billion for relief, recovery, and rebuilding efforts in Haiti. This is documented in the section now released, where grants from the Gates Foundation and increasing numbers of charities registered in this sub-sector account for the tremendous rise in international giving.

Thanks for reading,


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August 23, 2010

Education Fundraising

School Back in Session

The streets are jammed. Students are teeming the streets.  The fall term has begun at many schools, including here at IUPUI, home of The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. These are exciting days for the Center, because this marks the first semester for a new undergraduate program in philanthropy. In addition, we have a number of doctoral candidates starting now in our offices who will, in varying ways, be assisting with Giving USA 2011.

Education Funding Spread Thin

Indiana University is one of the many public universities now actively raising funds. Because of increases in fundraising activity by public institutions, including K-12 schools, the education fundraising landscape is changing. Recent declines in state and local budgets for education, and increasing awareness of the importance of quality education for later life success, have led to a new focus on philanthropy as a source of support for grades K-12. Parents and others are acting to preserve educational programs they value. One national organization tracking all of this is the Public Education Network, a consortium of local education foundations. Read More…

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August 13, 2010

The Results are In! Foundation Giving is Next

Thanks to our purchasers who heartily responded to the recent Giving USA survey. Your votes on which topical digest should be published next have been tabulated and the hands-down winner is Giving USA 2010: Giving By Foundations. It will be the first topical digest available after one about international giving, which already is in progress.  Read More…

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