General News

Senator Young Questions IUPUI Professor Dr. Una Osili on Philanthropy

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Dr. Una Osili, the Efroymson Chair at Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, testified Thursday before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee in a rare hearing about charitable giving and nonprofits.

U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.), a member of the committee, asked Dr. Osili about ways the State of Indiana is leading the way in philanthropy.

“Dr. Osili is a leading expert on charitable giving, both domestically and across borders,” Senator Young said. “As we examine the state of our non-profit sector in 2022 in the midst of a pandemic, war, and a changing economy, I’m grateful that Dr. Osili shared her expertise with us.”

Senator Young used his time to highlight work being done in Indiana. Indiana in fortunate to have a community foundation in every one of its counties. Senator Young asked Dr. Osili how this structure helps serve local communities.

He also asked about technological innovation. In a recent article in the Indianapolis Business Journal, Dr. Osili wrote that, “the pace of technological innovation in the philanthropic sector in fundraising and service delivery will need to accelerate even more in 2022.” Senator Young highlighted a collaboration between the Central Indiana Community Foundation and, an Indianapolis-based tech company that provides data helping companies track charitable giving.

During the hearing, Independent Sector President and CEO Dan Cardinali made a strong case about “how Congress and the charitable sector can work together to strengthen civil society and help all people thrive.”

Calling nonprofits and charities “the engine of our collective flourishing,” Cardinali said that the social sector is “the place where people come together to solve problems, a trusted partner for community and government leaders, and our economy’s third-largest employer.”

Cardinali also expressed benefits of making the universal charitable deduction permanent, telling committee members that “restoring and expanding the nonitemizer charitable deduction is essential to generating giving on the scale our nation needs." Indiana Philanthropy Alliance also supports making the charitable deduction available to all taxpayers—regardless of their tax rate or whether they itemize—to incentivize and recognize the giving of all Americans.  


Watch the exchange between Senator Young and Dr. Osili


Read an excerpt of the exchange between Senator Young and Dr. Osili conversation below. You may watch the hearing, read member statements, and read testimony from witnesses on the Senate Finance Committee webpage.


U.S. Senator Todd Young:

We take great pride in our community foundations, in the State of Indiana. Dr. Osili, as you know, beginning in 1990 the Lilly Endowment led an initiative known as GIFT, or Giving Indiana Funds for Tomorrow. This was a way to help establish and strengthen community foundations across the state of Indiana. When GIFT began, there were fewer than 12 community foundations. Today, there are 94 community foundations. We have 92 counties, so of course, that’s more than one per county. 

Dr. Osili, how does this structure—the only state in the country with a community foundation in every county—enable our state to better serve local communities?

Dr. Una Osili, the Efroymson Chair at Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy:

Thank you, Senator Young, for your leadership. Indiana is unique. As you’ve noted, we have a community foundation in every single county. Probably, the greatest concentration of any state in the country. There are over 700 community foundations nationwide. 

What we’ve seen in this crisis is that community foundations have played a vital role, not just in collaborating and coordinating, but also in avoiding duplication and connecting donors to needs. 

One takeaway from the work in Indiana is the idea that every single American is a philanthropist. You don’t have to have millions of dollars to participate. People from all different backgrounds can participate. 

In this crisis, in our communities, community foundations have been the conveners, the collaborators, and also catalysts for innovation—bringing new ideas to the forefront. And helping donors to better understand those local community needs. So, I think there’s important examples and models that other states and other communities can learn from. 

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