IPA Blog

Turns out, everyone can be a philanthropist

Friday, October 20, 2017

What does the term “philanthropist” mean? Would you consider yourself to be one? What factors influence how and when people give, whether that means volunteering time or donating money?

These are the key questions addressed by a new, interactive, online platform from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy called Generosity For Life. GenerosityForLife.org makes a compelling case that everyone can be a philanthropist.

GenerosityForLife.org, which was made possible through the generous support of the John Templeton Foundation, is a new, interactive, online platform and unparalleled resource on charitable giving and volunteering in America. It tells the story of American generosity and offers a multifaceted look at giving by American individuals and families.

The platform includes customizable visualizations of data on giving collected through the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy’s Philanthropy Panel Study (PPS). Following the same 9,000 households throughout their lives, the PPS tracks giving, volunteering, and factors that influence philanthropic practices across generations – making it the leading and most accurate resource for measuring generational giving and volunteering in the United States.

Today more than ever, we need a rich and nuanced understanding of generosity. Why do Americans give? How much, and when? What factors contribute to, or inhibit, generosity? Generosity For Life sets the stage for your further exploration of these vital questions by packaging the data from the PPS study in an accessible and digestible way. The result is a rich philanthropic landscape that deepens understanding of American giving, lays the groundwork for greater altruism, and will inspire a new generation of philanthropists.  

Please check out the new website and share these interactive resources with your friends and networks!

  • Give-O-Meter: Take a quiz that compares your giving and volunteering habits to those of your peers, and identify new areas for growth.
  • Generosity Maps: Compare how people give and volunteer across the country via illustrated maps of the United States. Filter the data via several lenses, including geographic region, type of charity supported, age, and income.
  • Generosity Reports: Build a detailed charitable profile of giving and volunteering trends in the U.S., customizable by type of giving and geographic area.

The website is a valuable resource for people of all ages and backgrounds:

  • For current and prospective donors, Generosity For Life offers a rich opportunity to help them consider their own philanthropic choices and inform their giving.
  • For parents and children, the website has projects and stories from real students that convey the importance of generosity and illustrate that philanthropy can take many forms. Parents can use these resources to educate and inspire their children about what philanthropy is and what it means to be generous.
  • For educators, the website includes unique lesson plans, an overview of projects developed by real students, and original story books created by second graders, to help teachers introduce the concepts of generosity and philanthropy into classrooms.
  • For researchers and academics, Generosity For Life functions as a clearinghouse and repository for cutting-edge research into generosity, including a comprehensive database of articles utilizing Philanthropy Panel Study data, reports, and fact sheets on philanthropic trends. These tools can serve as critical resources in understanding philanthropy and inform and inspire investigation into the human trait of generosity.
  • For nonprofit executives, fundraisers, and practitioners, the website enables examination of trends in giving by cause, allowing them to easily see where there is the greatest support for, and interest in, the issues their organizations are addressing.


Whether you are an academic doing philanthropic research, a nonprofit executive eager to learn more about trends in giving, or an educator looking to bring lessons on generosity into the classroom, Generosity For Life has a tool for you. Click here to visit the newly launched website and learn more.

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