Current Research Projects

Discover our current research projects

Our research focuses on increasing knowledge about the nonprofit sector and improving the practices of giving, volunteering, fundraising, nonprofit organization management, and other aspects of philanthropic activity.

Browse some of our current research projects below.

Giving USA

Giving USA report cover

Giving USA published by Giving USA Foundation is the longest-running, most comprehensive analysis of the sources and uses of U.S. charitable giving. This periodical rigorously estimates donations by individuals, corporations, foundations, and bequests to 1.1 million charities and 220,000 U.S. religious organizations.

Visit the Giving USA website View the Giving USA 2021 press release

The Philanthropy Outlook

The Philanthropy Outlook provides nonprofit scholars and practitioners with critical information about the charitable giving environment in 2021 and 2022.

Explore the findings

Philanthropy Panel Study (PPS)

Philanthropy Panel Study

Philanthropy Panel Study

The Philanthropy Panel Study (PPS) is the best and most accurate resource for measuring the U.S. general population’s charitable giving and volunteering. This signature panel study has tracked the same families’ giving and volunteering over time, alongside dynamic personal and socioeconomic factors informing philanthropic behavior.

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Changes to the Giving Landscape report cover

Changes to the Giving Landscape

The study looks at the share of households who gave, the amounts donor households gave, and the percent of income households gave before and after the Great Recession. The report offers key insights for nonprofits and donors as they face new and evolving factors affecting the philanthropic sector in the United States.

View the report

The Giving Environment: Understanding Drivers for Donor Engagement

The Giving Environment: Understanding Pre-Pandemic Trends in Charitable Giving

The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy conducted a series of research on the landscape of charitable giving and drivers for donor engagement, funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The goal of The Giving Environment report series is to provide data and analysis to better understand the causes and implications of the decline in donor participation shortly before the significant societal changes that took place in the United States in 2020, while also exploring the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the movements for social and racial justice on individual giving decisions moving forward.

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Diversity and Philanthropy

Everyday donors of color report cover

The Everyday Donors of Color: Diverse Philanthropy During Times of Change report shares findings on the motivations and behaviors of donors of color in recent years. These findings highlight the importance of developing a more inclusive set of philanthropic practices for organizations in the aftermath of the pandemic. The report incorporates a systematic review of existing literature, data from a national survey of American households, insights from focus groups with diverse donors, and two case studies on the impact of mutual aid.

View the report View the infographic View the executive summary

Human Needs Index

Human Needs Index

With more than 45 million Americans living in poverty, according to government measures, the Human Needs Index will serve as a powerful tool to track basic human need with different indicators and less lag time than conventional government data.

See the latest update

Tax Policy and Giving


Charitable crowdfunding: Who gives, to what, and why?

Charitable crowdfunding: Who gives, to what, and why?

Crowdfunding has the potential to extend opportunities for generosity to a wider audience because of its digital presence, the apparent ease of using such platforms, and the ability to connect donors to both causes and individuals they wish to support. Moreover, as the study finds that a majority of donors to crowdfunding platforms in 2019 contributed to help a family member, close friend, or a stranger, crowdfunding amplifies traditional charitable giving beyond giving to institutions to include direct giving to individuals.

View the report View the infographic Blog: Crowdfunding in the digital age

Webinar: Charitable Crowdfunding: Who gives, to what, and why?

View the press release

Nonprofit Research

Nonprofits and Donor Advised Funds report cover

Donor-advised funds (DAFs) foster a unique partnership among nonprofits, donors, and DAF sponsoring organizations to achieve philanthropic goals. DAFs are also one of the fastest growing charitable vehicles and most talked about topics in the field of philanthropy. It is essential to understand donors’ and nonprofit organizations’ perceptions of DAFs. Perceptions not only affect how and when DAFs are used, but they impact policymakers’ decisions about rules and regulations, thereby influencing the long-term efficacy of DAFs as a philanthropic vehicle.

Explore the key findings View the full report

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Gender and Philanthropy

Planned Giving

Planned Giving Study report cover

The 2016 Planned Giving Study investigates the characteristics of planned gifts and the likelihood of donors making such gifts to nonprofit organizations at various points over the course of a lifetime. In partnership with Pentera, Inc., this study draws upon unique data on planned gifts and donors from higher education institutions in the U.S. Findings from the study offer insights and implications for fundraising professionals to help donors achieve both their philanthropic aspirations and their financial objectives.

View the 2016 Planned Giving Study View more Planned Giving research

Regional Studies

Giving in Florida provides an in-depth examination of the charitable giving and volunteering patterns of Florida households in 2021, as well as their priorities and motivations for giving.

View the infographic.

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Giving in Chicago report cover

Giving in Chicago, a report in conjunction with The Chicago Community Trust, is the first comprehensive study of individual, corporate and foundation giving in the six-county metropolitan Chicago region. It examines patterns of charitable giving by households and corporations across the region in 2013, and grant making by foundations and public charities in the region.

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Giving in Puerto Rico report cover

The first study of its kind to examine charitable giving patterns, priorities, and attitudes of Puerto Rican households, Giving in Puerto Rico is the result of a collaboration among Flamboyan Foundation (Flamboyan), Kinesis Foundation, and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

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Disaster Giving

Disaster Giving cover

The school has collected and tracked extensive data on disaster philanthropy from U.S. individuals, corporations, foundations, and nonprofit organizations to major domestic and overseas disasters since 2001, including the September 11 attacks, the 2004 Asian tsunami, Hurricane Katrina and the Pakistan earthquake in 2005, the 2010 Haitian earthquake, the Japanese earthquake and subsequent tsunami in 2011, Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and the 2013 Philippine Typhoon Haiyan.

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International Philanthropy

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The Changing Landscape of U.S. Cross-Border Philanthropy explores the changing dynamics of U.S. philanthropy to international causes. The report provides an overview of academic literature on U.S. cross-border philanthropy and international partnership, analyzes current trends on U.S. international giving, and identifies main characteristics of the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Office of American Schools and Hospitals Abroad (USAID/ASHA) grantees and unsuccessful applicants between 2015 and 2017.

View the press release View more International Philanthropy research