Debra Mesch

Professor of Philanthropic Studies; Eileen Lamb O'Gara Chair in Women's Philanthropy

Women's Philanthropy Institute
Debra Mesch
University Hall, Suite 3000
301 University Boulevard
Indianapolis, IN


  • Ph.D. Kelley School of Business, Indiana University
  • M.B.A., Kelley School of Business, Indiana University
  • M.S., Vanderbilt University
  • B.S., University of Cincinnati


Dr. Debra Mesch is Professor of Philanthropic Studies at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University and holds the Eileen Lamb O’Gara Chair in Women’s Philanthropy. Dr. Mesch was the Director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) from 2008-2018. Her primary responsibility is to guide the research agenda on the role of gender in philanthropy. Under her leadership, the WPI received a multi-year grant beginning in 2014 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to expand research on gender and philanthropy. She and her colleagues have written numerous reports for the signature Women Give series about the factors that shape gender-based giving patterns—including age, religion, income, marital status and more—in order to increase understanding about how gender influences philanthropy.

Courses Taught

  • Gender and Philanthropy


  • Dale, E., Ackerman, J., Mesch, Debra J., Osili, U., & Garcia S. (2018). Giving to women and girls: An emerging area of philanthropy. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 47 (2), 241-261. 
  • Osili, U., Mesch, Debra J., Hayat, A., & Dale, E. (2016). The effects of gender, group composition, and social trust on the volunteer behaviour of Lions Club International members. Voluntary Sector Review, 7 (1), 67-87. 
  • Brown, E., Mesch, Debra J. & Hayat, A. (2016). Life expectancy and the search for a Bag Lady Effect in charitable giving. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 45 (3), 630-645. 
  • Kou, X., Hayat, A., Mesch, Debra J., Osili, U. (2014). The global dynamics of gender and philanthropy: A study of charitable giving by Lions Clubs International members. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 43 (25), 18S-38S.    
  • Mesch, Debra J., Brown, M., Moore, Z. & Hayat, A. (2011). Gender differences in charitable giving.  International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing, 16 (4), 291-297.  
  • Mesch, Debra J. & Rooney, P.M. (2008). Determinants of compensation: A study of pay, performance, and gender differences for fundraising professionals. Nonprofit Management and Leadership, 18 (4), 435-462.

Research Interests

  • Gender and philanthropy
  • Gender differences in giving and volunteering
  • Gender differences and civil society cross-nationally

Honors & Awards

  • Selected for Women Creating Excellence at IUPUI by the IUPUI Office for Women (2010)
  • 2014 America’s Top 20 Women in Philanthropy, Social Innovation & Civic Engagement (2014)

Grants & Funding

  • How and Why Women Give? Funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for $2.1 million. Start date 1/2016-1/2019. 
  • How and Why Women Give? Funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for $375,000. Start date 11/2014-12/1/2015. 
  • Charitable giving by girls and boys. Sponsored by the United Nations Foundations for $40,000. 2013


  • World Vision, NY:NY, 2018
  • Arizona State University, Phoenix, 2018
  • Wells Fargo, Denver, 2018
  • Jewish Community Foundation, Boca Raton, FL, 2018
  • University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, 2017
  • The Foundation for the Carolinas, Charlotte, NC, 2017
  • Iowa State University, Ames, IA, 2017
  • Women Moving Millions Summit, NY:NY, 2017
  • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Seattle, WA, 2017
  • Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta, Atlanta, GA, 2016
  • Keynote speaker in Shenzhen and Beijing on Women and Philanthropy, 2016
  • Jewish Federations of North American General Assembly, Washington D.C., 2016
  • Barron’s Top Women Wealth Advisor Summit, Palm Beach, FL, 2016