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$2.1M grant will advance research on women’s and men’s giving, increase understanding of motivations



INDIANAPOLIS — Research about men’s and women’s giving will be accelerated as a result of a new $2.1 million research grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy on the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus.

“Increasing and improving philanthropy requires that we continually increase the depth and breadth of knowledge about giving,” said Amir Pasic, the Eugene R. Tempel Dean of the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. “We thank the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for their support of this important research, which will provide women and men donors with insights that help them give more effectively and better understand why they give differently.”

The wide-ranging, three-year project will marshal myriad approaches and multiple scholars to address two central areas of research. The first will identify and examine the factors that influence men and women to give more, to give more intentionally and to give more effectively. Researchers will explore the effects of issues such as donor education, household decision-making, life cycle and demographic changes, and technology and newer forms of philanthropy such as crowdfunding. The second area of research will focus on charitable giving to aid women and girls, including who gives, where they give, what factors influence their giving, how to increase giving and how to engage more men and younger women in supporting these causes.

The project will produce a variety of accessible, easy-to-use resources to inform and assist donors, nonprofits and others.

The new project builds on insights developed under an earlier report that identified, among other results, ways that women’s and men’s differing preferences, priorities and financial resources influence couples’ charitable giving. The project also demonstrated that nearly half of all donors make contributions to causes that aid women and girls. Looking at giving by gender, it found that half of women donors and two out of five men donors give to these causes.

“The initial research enabled us to step back and take a comprehensive look at the field of gender and philanthropy, identify the related research that has been conducted to date, and determine the major gaps in the understanding of these issues,” said Debra Mesch, Eileen Lamb O’Gara Chair in Women’s Philanthropy, director of WPI and principal investigator for the project. “This new grant acknowledges that while knowledge about gender and philanthropy has come a long way in a relatively short period, we have barely scratched the surface, and many key research questions remain to be answered.”

The Women’s Philanthropy Institute is in the vanguard of building the body of knowledge on women’s leadership in philanthropy and how women think about and practice their giving. Its Women Give research series and its other studies have revealed important new insights into women’s giving. The knowledge and resources generated by the new grant will leverage and expand upon that foundation.

“Providing research that informs practice is a key tenet of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy,” said Una Osili, co-principal investigator for the project. “Through this new research, donors at all levels of giving — nonprofit and fundraising professionals, financial and donor advisors, scholars, and others — will gain greater understanding of gender and philanthropy, the capacity of women’s giving, and opportunities to expand the donor base and increase charitable giving.”

About the Women’s Philanthropy Institute

The Women’s Philanthropy Institute is part of the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. WPI increases understanding of women’s philanthropy through rigorous research and education, interpreting and sharing these insights broadly to improve philanthropy. Learn more. Follow us on Twitter and “Like” us on Facebook.

About the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy

The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy is dedicated to improving philanthropy to improve the world by training and empowering students and professionals to be innovators and leaders who create positive and lasting change. The school offers a comprehensive approach to philanthropy through its academic, research and international programs and through The Fund Raising School, Lake Institute on Faith & Giving, and the Women’s Philanthropy Institute. Follow us on Twitter or “Like” us on Facebook.