Philanthropy—voluntary action for the public good—is a central component of thriving, prosperous communities across the globe. Generosity and philanthropy advance human well-being, both materially and spiritually. Philanthropy persists across diverse global cultures, religions, and communities. Political, legal, economic, social and cultural factors all shape the enabling environment for philanthropy. There is abundant literature showing the influence of philanthropy in the development and innovation of the public good and well-being in the areas of education, health, agriculture, and many others; however, the rapid global expansion and diversification of philanthropic activities have not been accompanied with similar amounts of systematic research.
Through improved data collection, new scientific research, broad dissemination, and scholarly networks, the proposed project aims to raise awareness and understanding of philanthropy as a critical private force contributing to human prosperity and well-being globally. This project represents an important opportunity to improve data and knowledge on philanthropy through a comparative lens. New knowledge gained from the research will advance our understanding of the religious, political, economic, and cultural factors that inform both spiritual and material progress. The project will provide new comparative data to help leaders in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to work together to improve the enabling environment globally. By expanding research outreach to more scholars and communities around the world, the proposed research dissemination project falls firmly in line with the mission and strategic focus of the Foundation to “encourage civil, informed dialogue among scientists, philosophers, and theologians, as well as between such experts and the public at large… (in order to) spur curiosity and accelerate discovery.”