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Lake Institute on Faith & Giving event explores 'The Generosity Equation'



INDIANAPOLIS — If generosity is good for the giver — and research shows it is — then why don’t more people give?

This paradox and why people are or are not generous are among the issues Christian Smith of the University of Notre Dame will address during the 12th Annual Thomas H. Lake Lecture.

The Lake Lecture takes place Thursday, March 12, at the Indiana Historical Society, 450 W. Ohio St. in Indianapolis. The event, which includes a panel discussion and a question-and-answer session, begins at 4:30 p.m. and is followed by a reception at 6 p.m. Both are free and open to the public. Space and parking are limited, and advance registration is required.

The annual lecture is sponsored by the Lake Institute on Faith & Giving, part of the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, located on the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus.

Speaking about “The Generosity Equation: Donors, Faith & Avenues to Giving,” Smith — the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Sociology and director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Society — will analyze religious factors that increase generosity, examine the personal benefits of giving, explore how charitable support is increased, and discuss donor and beneficiary obstacles to philanthropy.

“It is an honor to have Christian Smith, a foremost expert on issues of generosity and giving, deliver our 2015 Lake Lecture,” said David King, the Karen Lake Buttrey Director of Lake Institute on Faith & Giving. “The wealth of insights and empirical data he brings to these questions from extensive surveys and in-depth interviews sets his work apart and should make us stop to consider the factors that lead people to practice generosity.”

Smith’s research focuses primarily on religion in modernity, adolescents, American evangelicalism and culture. He previously was professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Smith received his master’s degree and doctorate from Harvard University and his bachelor’s degree from Gordon College.

The annual Lake Lecture is an opportunity for community exploration and discussion of issues related to faith and philanthropy. This year’s event may be of interest to faith leaders, donors, development professionals and nonprofit leaders, and anyone concerned with questions of how generosity is connected to living a better life.

The panel discussion will follow Smith’s address and features:

  • Jay Geshay, senior vice president of community impact and fundraising, United Way of Central Indiana
  • Sara Konrath, assistant professor of philanthropic studies, IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy
  • Brian Steensland, professor of sociology at IUPUI and director of social science research at the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture