To increase the understanding of philanthropy and improve its practice through research, teaching, public service, and public affairs. The Center's goals include analyzing and interpreting the philanthropic process of associating, giving, and volunteering; teaching theory and best practices related to the philanthropic process and nonprofit structures; and providing public service and continuing education to volunteers and practitioners in the nonprofit sector.
Founded in 1987, the Center pioneered the discipline known as Philanthropic Studies and is one of the first university institutions to offer critical insight into the history, culture, and values of philanthropy. Its study of philanthropy is grounded in liberal arts school and is complemented by expertise in the university's professional schools of business, education, journalism, law, medicine, nursing, public administration, and social work. Using the methodologies of a number of fields, the Center seeks to understand the processes of giving and volunteering from the donor's perspective as well as nonprofit management, volunteer involvement, and fundraising from the organization's perspective. The Center has established particular strengths in the relationship of philanthropy to religion, economics, health care, and history. It also specializes in the relationship between government and nonprofits and the ethics and practice of fundraising. The Center is headquartered at .
On the research front, the Center seeks to contribute to the knowledge base of the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors. The Center researches and writes the AAFRC Trust for Philanthropy's Giving USA publication, which provides facts and figures related to philanthropic giving, and it produces the Philanthropic Giving Index, a semiannual publication that surveys fundraisers about the current and future climate for giving. Several other studies on current and long-term giving are also underway. The Center provides research support through competitive grant funds to faculty at Indiana University, scholars, students engaged in doctoral research, and individuals who come to Indiana to use the Ruth Lilly Special Collections and Archives in philanthropy.
Through its academic programs, the Center prepares students for a variety of positions in nonprofit organizations. It offers degree programs such as the Master of Arts in Philanthropic Studies, which includes an executive degree option; Master of Public Affairs in Nonprofit Management; and various undergraduate programs that focus on philanthropy and related subjects, as well as joint degree programs with other fields. The newest addition is the Nonprofit Management Certificate Online, which provides courses to students beyond the Indiana area and professionals who work full time.
The Fund Raising School and other public service programs of the Center provide professional development and continuing educational opportunities for fundraising professionals, foundation employees, community leaders, and others who work with philanthropy and nonprofit organizations. In cooperation with the , the Center provides leadership training for community foundation leaders through the .
The Center seeks to educate the general public about the impact philanthropy has on society through its public affairs efforts. After the September 11 terrorist attacks, the Center joined the AAFRC Trust for Philanthropy to release a study that examined the effects of major events of terrorism (the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City), war or war-like acts (Pearl Harbor, the Korean War, the Cuban Missile Crisis), and political and economic crises (the assassination of President Kennedy, the resignation of President Nixon, the Arab Oil Embargo) to determine their impact on the U.S. economy and philanthropic giving. The study, which was widely cited in newspapers across the country, found that the stock market dropped immediately following most of the major crises evaluated but recovered within a year in most cases, and that the total amount of charitable giving has increased every year for the past forty years, with the exception of 1987.
The Center's offers a wealth of information about the organization's goals and programs. In addition, it provides details on pursuing degree programs, enrolling in fundraising courses, and applying for scholarships. Users can also access a number of research studies and links to helpful philanthropic sites.