Nonprofits with religious ties receive nearly three-quarters of household giving, and nearly a third of total U.S. giving (an estimated $105.53 billion in 2013) goes to religious organizations, yet relatively little is known about the relationship between faith and giving.
New funding and initiatives from Lake Institute on Faith & Giving at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy aim to fill that void by expanding research that explores the intersections of faith and philanthropy.
In a first-of-its-kind event, Lake Institute recently convened a select group of scholars to discuss the state of the field of faith and giving and outline opportunities for advancing knowledge. The inaugural Lake Institute Network of Emerging Scholars (LINES of Inquiry) on April 12-13, 2015, brought together top established and emerging scholars in faith and philanthropy from across a variety of disciplines to learn from each other, map the current research landscape and outline a possible future research agenda for the field.
Scholars highlighted themes and topics for future study, including increasing interdisciplinary research, expanding the language used to explore generosity, understanding donors’ diverse motivations for giving and encompassing the wide variety of institutions and communities that are integral to understanding the relationships among faith and philanthropy.
“Fundamental to creating any field of study is creating opportunities for pioneering, creative and visionary scholars who are committed to the field in their own research to come together to share their work and develop synergies for cultivating a common vision and a burgeoning agenda for the field,” said David P. King, the Karen Lake Buttrey Director of the institute. “Nothing like this has ever been done before in faith and philanthropy. Lake Institute is honored to convene many of the best and brightest minds to create, foster and sustain the field of study around religion and giving.”
Participants in the invitation-only workshop examined key questions in faith and philanthropy, discussed research methods and explored ideas for information sharing and collaboration on teaching and research. Each participant presented his or her own research and received feedback from the other scholars. Topics ranged from measuring the philanthropic motivations of donors who attend religious services and the perspectives of young adults to the professionalization of Catholic hospitals and the religious roots of international humanitarian agencies.
LINES participants are eligible to be considered for research grants for the 2015-2016 academic year to be awarded from a dedicated LINES research award pool of $36,000, which is expected to grow. Funded scholars and projects will be announced in summer 2015.
“Lake Institute is leading the charge in building the field and the body of knowledge about faith and giving,” said Amir Pasic, dean of the school. “By serving as a catalyst, convener, thought leader and funder, it is encouraging and generating new research. The resulting understanding of the influence and impact of religion is empowering donors, congregations and nonprofits to significantly improve giving and fundraising.”
Since its inception in 2002, Lake Institute has focused knowledge and resources on developing new research on faith and giving, including supporting an endowed Lake Scholar and funding an annual doctoral dissertation fellowship.
Shai Dromi, a doctoral candidate in sociology at Yale University, is the recipient of the $22,000 Lake Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship for 2015-2016. Dromi’s dissertation explores the origins and development of the humanitarian international nonprofit organizations (INGO) sector. He is examining the influence of religion on the cultural and institutional infrastructure in which INGOS work today, as well as the ways in which religious beliefs can create the environments and institutions that make volunteer work and philanthropy possible.
In 2015 for the first time the institute is initiating a Lake Institute Research Advancement Award for up to $3,000 for several other scholars who applied for the dissertation fellowship. They are Andrew Lynn, a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at the University of Virginia studying work and vocation in postindustrial capitalism and Scott Libson, a Ph.D. candidate in American History at Emory University, who is examining mission movement fundraising from 1865-1929.
The Lake Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, a one-year grant given annually, provides a stipend to a scholar whose primary research focus is in the area of religion and philanthropy or faith and giving. It is intended to support the final year of dissertation writing. The first fellowship was awarded in 2008. King received the fellowship award in 2011.
Learn more about Dromi’s research, read about prior recipients and their dissertations or apply for the 2016-2017 fellowship on the Lake Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship page.
About Lake Institute on Faith & Giving
Lake Institute on Faith & Giving exists to foster a greater understanding of the ways in which faith inspires and informs giving through research, education and training. The institute offers customized programs that translates data and giving trends into practical tools. Lake Institute supports the development of research designed to explore the broad context of religious giving. Through public forums we engage practitioners, scholars and the community in thoughtful conversation and reflection. Follow us on Twitter @LakeInstitute.
About the Indiana University 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 in the world. 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 @IUPhilanthropy and “Like” us on Facebook.