Lilly Family School of Philanthropy

Grade Level: 
6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Philanthropy Education
The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy trains and empowers students and professionals to be innovators and create positive and lasting change. It is globally recognized as the world’s first school dedicated solely to the study and teaching of philanthropy.

Written by Krisztina Tury


The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy “increases the understanding of philanthropy and improves its practice worldwide” through research, teaching, training and civic engagement (Lilly Family School of Philanthropy). It trains and empowers students and professionals to be innovators and create positive and lasting change. It is globally recognized as the world’s first school dedicated solely to the study and teaching of philanthropy.

The school offers a comprehensive approach to philanthropy through its academic, research and international programs and through The Fund Raising School, Lake Institute on Faith & Giving, and the Women’s Philanthropy Institute. The school works in close collaboration with the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs and the School of Liberal Arts and relies on valued support from thoughtful donors and partners (Annual Report of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy 2015).

Historic Roots

In the 1980s, leaders at the Indianapolis University recognized that there was a growing need for greater knowledge about philanthropy and for more, professionally trained people to work in the nonprofit sector (Lilly Family School of Philanthropy).  Therefore, Indiana University proposed the establishment of a center on philanthropy that would include The Fund Raising School which had been founded in San Francisco in 1974. The Center on Philanthropy was established in 1987 with initial funding from the Lilly Endowment Inc. to serve the nonprofit sector. Since its founding, the Center has promoted philanthropic studies as an academic subject. It provided grants to develop a curriculum for several graduate courses in the field and led Indiana University to launch a master of arts program in philanthropic studies in 1993. The Center also led the University to establish the nation’s first bachelor and phd programs, initiated service learning programs and awarded nearly 100 grants to support research in the field.

In 2012, Indiana University decided to create the world’s first school dedicated solely to the teaching and study of philanthropy. The Center on Philanthropy was reorganized as the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, honoring the generosity of one of America’s greatest philanthropic families. To further advance the understanding of key issues in the field, the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving and the Women’s Philanthropy Institute became part of the school in the early 2000s.


Indiana University has been a leading force in the movement to legitimize the study of philanthropy since the 1970s. The University established the first bachelor’s, master’s and Phd programs in the field in the US and created the nation’s first endowed chair in philanthropy. By 2016, the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy has more than 500 alumni graduating from its different academic programs.

The Fund Raising School, which is the only university-based fundraising school in the US, has approximately 50 trainers and educates around 5000 professionals yearly. The Lilly School of Philanthropy is also home to two unique institutions advancing the understanding of particular aspects of philanthropy: The Lake Institute on Faith and Giving and the Women’s Philanthropy Institute. The former works with 7 teachers and educated 183 participants in 2016.

The Lilly Family School of Philanthropy assists practitioners, conducts cutting-edge research, creates important publications for the field and supports public policy on issues related to philanthropy. It hosts events for researchers and practitioners to discuss relevant issues and serves as headquarters of ARNOVA, the Association for Research on Nonprofit and Voluntary Action.


Ties to the Philanthropic Sector

The School advances the field and practice of philanthropy through a variety ways: academic and professional education, international programs, research, publication and leadership forums. Some of the school’s most important research projects include (Lilly Family School of Philanthropy):

  • Philanthropy Panel Study: the most accurate resource for measuring giving and volunteering in the US population.

  • Million Dollar List: a record of publicly announced charitable donations of $1 million or more given by US residents, corporations, private foundations, and other grantmaking nonprofits.

  • Giving USA: the longest-running and most comprehensive analysis of charitable donations by individuals, corporations, foundations and bequests in the US.

  • Women Give: examines the differences between men and women regarding their motivations to philanthropy and giving patterns

  • High Net Worth Studies: examine giving priorities of America’s wealthiest households.

  • Disaster Giving: examines disaster philanthropy from US individuals, corporations, foundations, and nonprofit organizations to major domestic and overseas disasters since 2001

The Lake Institute on Faith and Giving increases the understanding of how faith motivates and influences giving. This question is particularly important as it is estimated that around one-third of all donations in the US goes to organizations with religious ties. The Institute provides research on the relationship of faith and giving, offers public forums to discuss issues related to the topic and works with leaders of faith-based organizations to learn more about fundraising.

The Women’s Philanthropy Institute focuses on how and why gender matters in philanthropy (Lilly Family School). It aims to change social perceptions on who is philanthropic by providing education and training. The Institute is the only university-based institution that is dedicated to understanding gender and philanthropy.


Key Related Ideas

Civil society: see the briefing paper on Civil Society and Advocacy

Nonprofit organizations: see the briefing paper on Nonprofit Organizations

Philanthropy: see the briefing paper on Philanthropy

Important People Related to the Topic

  • Dr. Dwight F. Burlingame: Professor of Philanthropic Studies, Glenn Family Chair in Philanthropy at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI, developed the first curriculum working with Robert L. Payton. Dr. Burlingame has published numerous books and articles on philanthropy, fundraising, and the nonprofit sector. He also worked to incorporate the study of policy issues, and historical and ethical discussions into the graduate program on philanthropy at IUPUI (Lilly Family School of Philanthropy).
  • Robert L. Payton: was Professor Emeritus of Philanthropic Studies and one of the founders and the first director of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. In 1993, he became the nation's first full-time professor of Philanthropic Studies. He also served as President of Exxon Education Foundation, and President of C.W. Post College and Hofstra University (The Nonprofit Times).
  • Henry A. Rosso: was one of the founders of the Center on Philanthropy and was founding director and Director Emeritus of the Fund Raising School. Previously, he was senior vice president and member of the board of directors of G.A. Brakeley and Company, a national fundraising consulting firm (Rosso 1991).
  • Dr. Eugene R. Tempel: is Founding Dean Emeritus of the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and a Professor of Philanthropic Studies. He helped found the Center on Philanthropy, and was its executive director for 11 years. He is an internationally recognized expert on the nonprofit sector with four decades of leadership and fundraising experience (Lilly Family School of Philanthropy).

Related Nonprofit Organizations

  • ARNOVA (Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action) is a membership organization that promotes research on nonprofit organizations and philanthropy. It connects scholars, teachers and practitioners nationally and internationally. The Association's annual conference allows for sharing of significant research in the field. The office of ARNOVA is located at the Lilly School of Philanthropy (
  • The Aspen Institute Philanthropy & Social Enterprise Program is an educational and policy studies organization. It provides a global forum for leaders from various disciplines to discuss critical issues. The Institute has several offices in the U.S. as well as an international network of partners (
  • The Giving Institute, formerly the American Association of Fund Raising Counsel, exists to empower philanthropy. Its members provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. The Institute is also the parent organization the Giving USA Foundation which in partnership with the Center on Philanthropy publishes the Giving USA reports annually (


Reflection Question - Why is it important that people can read research on giving and volunteering?




This paper was developed by a PhD student at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.  It is offered by Learning to Give and Indiana University at Indianapolis.