David King

Karen Lake Buttrey Director, Lake Institute on Faith & Giving and Associate Professor, Philanthropic Studies

Lake Institute on Faith and Giving
David King


University Hall, Suite 3000
301 University Boulevard
Indianapolis, IN


  • Emory University, Ph.D. in Historical Studies, Graduate Department of Religion
  • Duke Divinity School, Master of Divinity, Summa Cum Laude
  • Samford University, Bachelor of Arts in History, Summa Cum Laude


David P. King is the Karen Lake Buttrey Director of Lake Institute on Faith & Giving as well as Associate Professor of Philanthropic Studies within the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. He arrived at IUPUI in 2014 after serving as Assistant Professor of Christian History at Memphis Theological Seminary in Memphis, TN.

As an American religious historian, his research interests broadly include exploring the practices of twentieth and twenty-first century American and global faith communities as well as more specifically investigating how the religious identity of faith-based nonprofits shapes their motivations, rhetoric, and practice. He is the author of the recent book, God’s Internationalists: World Vision and the Age of Evangelical Humanitarianism (UPenn Press 2019) that traces the almost seventy year history of World Vision, the world’s largest Christian humanitarian organization in order to investigate the evolving understandings of religious identity, international development, and public policy within the history of international relief and development organizations.

During his time at IUPUI, King has worked to build the field of religion and philanthropy through interdisciplinary research collaborations, convenings of junior and senior scholars, and expanded critical reflections on the field. With Philip Goff, King has edited a volume on Religion and Philanthropy in the U.S. due out with Indiana University Press in 2020. 

In addition to King’s focus on religion, humanitarianism, and philanthropy broadly through a wide variety of organizational models and contexts, he is also particularly focused on congregations. As the Co-PI of the National Study of Congregations’ Economic Practices, (NSCEP) the largest nationally representative study of congregations’ finances conducted in a generation, he is helping to build a new field of research on how congregations receive, manage, and spend resources.

The recipient of almost five million dollars in grant funding for Lake Institute projects and his own research, King continues to foster conversations around the dynamic relationship between faith and giving across all faith traditions.

He is passionate about research and teaching but as an ordained minister having served local churches and national faith-based organizations, he is also fueled by facilitating conversations with faith leaders, donors, and fundraisers (of all generations) around the intersections of faith and giving. He routinely teaches leaders around the country through Lake Institute’s executive training courses as well as through speaking at universities, professional conferences, and religious gatherings. In recent years, he has been interviewed in national outlets such as The Washington Post, The Atlantic, NPR, Religion News Service, and The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Courses Taught

  • P530: Religion and Philanthropy
  • P660: Ethical, Moral, and Religious Perspectives on Philanthropy


  • “Religion, Charity, and Philanthropy in America,” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion in America, ed. by John Corrigan. Oxford University Press (February 2018).
  • “Preaching Good News to the Poor: Billy Graham and Evangelical Humanitarianism,” In American Pilgrim: The Worlds of Billy Graham, eds. Grant Wacker, Anne Blue Wills, and Andrew Finstuen (Oxford University Press, 2017): 119-142.
  • “Godly Work for a Global Christianity: American Christians’ Economic Impact Through Missions, Markets, and International Development,” In The Business Turn in American Religious History, eds. Amanda Porterfield, John Corrigan, and Darren Grem (Oxford University Press, 2017). 
  •  “World Vision, Religious Identity, and the Evolution of Child Sponsorship,” in Child Sponsorship: A Critical Discussion, eds. Matthew Clarke and Brad Watson, Palgrave-Macmillan (2014).
  • “Heartbroken for God’s World: The Story of Bob Pierce, Founder of World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse,” in Family, Friend, Foe? The Relationship of Religion and Philanthropy in Religious Philanthropic Organizations, edited by Tom Davis, Indiana University Press (2013).
  • "The New Internationalists: World Vision and the Revival of American Evangelical Humanitarianism, 1950–2010." Religions 3, no. 4: 922-949 (Oct. 2012).

Honors & Awards