Generosity-Related Organizations

Below is a list of organizations dedicated to the study and practice of generosity and related topics. While the Science of Generosity initiative shares with these organizations an interest in generosity, it in no way promotes or supports them. Here you will find a listing and brief overview of each organization’s stated goals.

The Altruistic Personality and Prosocial Behavior Institute (Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA)
Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (Indianapolis, IN)
Bolder Giving (New York, New York)
Centre for Civil Society (London School of Economics)
Center on Wealth and Philanthropy (Boston College)
Centre for Charitable Giving and Philanthropy (City University of London, Cass Business School)
Center for Global Prosperity (Hudson Institute, New York)
The Center on Philanthropy at IUPUI (Indiana University)
Center for the Study of Philanthropy and Volunteerism (Duke University)
Center for the Study of the Gift Economy (Austin, TX)
The Corporation for National Community Service (Washington, DC)
empty tomb, inc. (Champaign, IL)
Forgiveness, Altruism & Aggression Research Program (Indiana State University)
The Foundation Center
Giving USA (Glenview, IL)
The GoodWork Project (Cambridge, MA)
The Greater Good Science Center (University of California, Berkeley)
Independent Sector (Washington, DC)
Institute for Volunteering Research (University of East London)
The Institute for Research on Unlimited Love (Stony Brook, New York)
International Society for Third-Sector Research (Baltimore, Maryland)
Johnson Center for Philanthropy (Grand Valley State University)
The Kula Foundation (Denver, Colorado)
The Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen Foundation
Learning to Give
The New Science of Virtues Project (University of Chicago)
Office for Civil Society (London)
Philanthropy Roundtable (Washington, D.C.)
Program on Prosocial Studies of Religion (Baylor University)
Rollins College Philanthropy and Non-Profit Leadership Center (Rollins College)


Regional Generosity-Related Organizations

Center for Civil Society (University of Kwala-Zulu Natal, South Africa)
Center of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies (Queensland University, Australia)
Office for the Community and Volunteering Sector (New Zealand)
The Colorado Generosity Project
Voluntary Sector Studies Network (Swadlincote, UK)

Listing with Brief Overviews

Below you will find a brief statement of the goals of those organizations listed above. Where possible we have used information provided by the institutions themselves.

The Altruistic Personality and Prosocial Behavior Institute (Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA). Founded with the dual purpose of studying specific examples of heroic and conventional altruism and seeking out ways to enhance altruism and prosocial behavior in society.

Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action – ARNOVA (Indianapolis, IN). Founded in 1971 as the Association of Voluntary Action Scholars, the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA) is a neutral, open forum committed to strengthening the research community in the emerging field of nonprofit and philanthropic studies. ARNOVA brings together both theoretical and applied interests, helping scholars gain insight into the day-to-day concerns of third-sector organizations, while providing nonprofit professionals with research they can use to improve the quality of life for citizens and communities. Principal activities include an annual conference, publications, electronic discussions and special interest groups.

Centre for Civil Society (London School of Economics). Carries out innovative, interdisciplinary and comparative research on the study of civil society at global, national and local levels. The Centre seek not only to push theoretical frontiers but also to investigate the structure and dynamics of actually existing civil societies in diverse contexts, including their benign and less benign dimensions. Researchers at the Centre engage critically with conceptual debates around the normative and empirical content of civil society and of other similar terms such as social capital, the voluntary sector, non-profit sector, the third sector and community organization.

Center on Wealth and Philanthropy (Boston College).
The Center on Wealth and Philanthropy (CWP) is a multidisciplinary research center specializing in the study of spirituality, wealth, philanthropy, and other aspects of cultural life in an age of affluence. Founded in 1970, CWP is a recognized authority on the relation between economic wherewithal and philanthropy, the motivations for charitable involvement, and the underlying meaning and practice of care.

Centre for Family Studies and Research (Catholic University-Milan). From our perspective family is one of the main source of generosity, and one of the purpose of the Centre is to understand which psychological, relational and social variables are likely to enhance the generosity inside and outside the family realm. Consequently, some of our research plans regards topics like forgiving, gratitude, and volunteering. In particular, we are now studying the determinants and the effects of forgiveness and gratitude inside family functioning and the topic of voluntary action and its consequences at individual, family and societal level.We are also developing a measure instrument of forgiveness in couple relationships and a measure of family gratitude, which are likely to be completed very soon.

Centre for Charitable Giving and Philanthropy (City University of London, Cass Business School). The Centre, which sees a total joint investment of £2.2million over 5 years, will support high quality independent research aimed at influencing policy and practice decisions in the UK as well as developing the necessary evidence base to better understand charitable giving and philanthropy issues. It also aims to help third sector organisations, government and business to better understand why and how individuals and businesses can give, helping to increase and target giving to support the public good.

Center for Global Prosperity (Hudson Institute, New York). The Center for Global Prosperity provides a platform—through conferences, discussions, publications, and media appearances—to create awareness among U.S. and international opinion leaders, as well as the general public, about the central role of the private sector, both for-profit and not-for-profit, in the creation of economic growth and prosperity in any country. The Center’s core product is the new annual Index of Global Philanthropy and Remittances, which details the sources—and magnitude of private giving to the developing world.

The Center on Philanthropy at IUPUI (Indiana University).
The Center on Philanthropy focuses on increasing knowledge about the nonprofit or philanthropic sector and improving the practices of giving, fundraising, nonprofit organization management, and other aspects of philanthropic activity.

Center for the Study of Philanthropy and Volunteerism (Duke University). The Center for the Study of Philanthropy and Voluntarism was created in 1986 to conduct scholarly research and expand the dialogue about these pursuits. The Center is part of Duke University’s Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy. The Institute offers a professional master’s degree in public policy analysis and management as well as an undergraduate major in public policy. The Center’s major objectives are: 1) To support scholarly research on issues related to philanthropy and voluntarism, 2) To stimulate the exchange of ideas and research findings among scholars and practitioners, and 3) To encourage the development of university courses in the area of philanthropy.

Center for the Study of the Gift Economy (Austin, TX).
It is not because of a fatal flaw in human nature that we act so inhumanely to one another, but because of a complex tangle of gift-thread logics and strategies which become contradictory and promote adversarial behaviors. The tangle can be unraveled and understood, not within the exchange paradigm itself but by starting over, putting gift giving first as a theme for understanding the world.

The Corporation for National Community Service (Washington, DC). The Corporation conducts and supports high quality, rigorous social science evaluation research designed to: measure the impact of Corporation’s programs and shape policy decisions; encourage a culture of performance and accountability in national and community service programs; provide information on volunteering, civic engagement, and volunteer management in nonprofit organizations; and assist in the developmetn and assessment of new initiatives and innovative demonstration projects designed to shape future community service policy decisions.

Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership (Grand Valley State University, Michigan). Vision: The Johnson Center will be the premier academic center on philanthropy and nonprofit leadership dedicated to social change and community improvement at local, regional, national, and international levels. Mission: As an academic center, we improve communities by the application of knowledge, which unleashes the power of nonprofits, foundation, and individuals.

empty tomb, inc. (Champaign, IL). A Christian service and research organization, empty tomb, inc. serves the church in various ways, providing both a financial discipleship strategy and information about church giving patterns on a national level.

Forgiveness, Altruism & Aggression Research Program (Indiana State University). Center faculty are currently involved in a variety of projects that explore predictors of altruism and aggression. The specific interests of the Center include the role of religious/spiritual experiences and practices in cultivating altruism and promoting helping behavior and the role of forgiveness in reducing risk of aggression. Additional projects include collaborative work with researchers at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. These studies involve examining predictors of aggression in offenders incarcerated in the Indiana Department of Corrections. A related line of research examines college student drinking games as a situational context that may contribute to sexual assault.

Giving USA (Glenview, IL). Advancing the research, education and public understanding of philanthropy is the mission of the Giving USA Foundation, founded in 1985 by the Giving Institute: Leading Consultants to Non-Profits (formerly American Association of Fundraising Counsel). Headquartered in Glenview, Ill., the Foundation publishes data and trends about charitable giving through its seminal publication, Giving USA, and quarterly newsletters on topics related to philanthropy. Prior to the formation of the Foundation, Giving USA was published directly through the auspices of the AAFRC. The book has documented who gives what to whom for more than 50 years.

The GoodWork Project (Cambridge, MA). The GoodWork® Project is a large scale, multi-site effort to identify individuals and institutions thatexemplify good work – work that is excellent in quality, socially responsible, and meaningful to its practitioners – and to determine how best to increase the incidence of good work in our society.

The Greater Good Science Center (University of California, Berkeley). The Greater Good Science Center is an interdisciplinary research center devoted to the scientific understanding of happy and compassionate individuals, strong social bonds, and altruistic behavior.

Independent Sector (Washington, DC). Independent Sector is the leadership forum for charities, foundations, and corporate giving programs committed to advancing the common good in America and around the world. Our nonpartisan coalition of approximately 600 organizations leads, strengthens, and mobilizes the charitable community in order to fulfill our vision of a just and inclusive society and a healthy democracy of active citizens, effective institutions, and vibrant communities. Independent Sector serves as the premier meeting ground for the leaders of America’s charitable and philanthropic sector. Since our founding in 1980, we have sponsored ground-breaking research, fought for public policies that support a dynamic, independent sector, and created unparalleled resources so staff, boards, and volunteers can improve their organizations and better serve their communities.

Institute for Volunteering Research (University of East London). The Institute for Volunteering Research aims to develop knowledge and understanding of volunteering in a way that is relevant to practitioners and policy makers. This site provides an overview of the work of the Institute as well as detailed summaries of research that it has undertaken.

The Institute for Research on Unlimited Love (Stony Brook, New York). The Institute for Research on Unlimited Love – Altruism, Compassion, Service, was founded in July of 2001 through a gnerous grant from the John Templeton Foundation. From its inception, it has worked closely with Lynn G. Underwood of the Fetzer Institute, whose pioneering research-funding initiative on compassionate love has been widely recognized as visionary. The Institute for Research on Unlimited Love strongly invites high-level dialogue between science, philosophy and theology on the topic of unselfish love. As the theologians and mystics assert, all human love is limited, while divine love alone is unlimited. While religions often quicken the spirit of benevolence, they can also kindle intolerance and rage. Thus, we hope that a dialogue across disciplinary boundaries and religious traditions can help us all to “do unto others” and love our neighbor centered on the ideal of a shared humanity.

International Society for Third-Sector Research. Interuniversity Center for Research on Genesis and Development of Prosocial and Antisocial Motivations, (University of Rome la Sapienza)

The New Science of Virtues Project (University of Chicago). The Arete Initiative at the University of Chicago is pleased to announce a new $3 million research program on a New Science of Virtues. This is a multidisciplinary research initiative that seeks contributions from individuals and from teams of investigators working within the humanities and the sciences. We support highly original, scholarly projects that demonstrate promise of a distinctive contribution to virtue research and have the potential to begin a new field of interdisciplinary study.

Office of the Third Sector (London). The International Society for Third-Sector Research (ISTR) is a major international association promoting research and education in the fields of philanthropy, civil society and the nonprofit sector. ISTR reflects the growing worldwide interest in Third Sector research and provides a permanent forum for international research, while at the same time building a global scholarly community in this field.

Program on Prosocial Studies of Religion (Baylor University). Prosocial Studies of Religion emphasizes the neglected “half” of human behavior. For example, why do so many people generously give money to help those in need? Or, why do most of the people reared in ‘bad’ neighborhoods turn out not only to be law-abiding, but to be good citizens? Indeed, how are people transformed from antisocial patterns of behavior to positive patterns? In keeping with the overall mission of ISR, the role of religion in promoting prosocial behavior will be the central concern. Not only the role of religiousness in guiding individual behavior, but the role of faith-based groups and organizations in fostering prosocial activities.

Regional Generosity-related Organizations

Center for Civil Society (University of Kwala-Zulu Natal, South Africa)

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. This study on the state of social giving in South Africa is situated against the backdrop of two fundamental factors that dominate the socio-political terrain of South African society, i.e. the pervasiveness of poverty and ongoing vulnerability to poverty as well as high levels of gross inequality despite the country’s abundance of material wealth. This study acknowledges that the causes of poverty and inequality are many and complex and cannot simply be addressed through donor aid and individual grants. We nevertheless proceed from the assumption that the provision of such resources does have enormous actual and potential impact on poor communities.

Center of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies (Queensland University, Australia).

Generosity Project (OCVS New Zealand). Philanthropy New Zealand, Volunteering New Zealand and the OCVS are spearheading the Generosity Project to explore ways to encourage individuals and businesses to participate in their communities and local community organisations by giving time, money or in-kind donations.

The Colorado Generosity Project. The Colorado Generosity Project is a multi-year campaign to increase charitable giving to nonprofits by individuals and corporations. Since its inception in 2007 the Project has published a series of important reports to assist Colorado nonprofits and donors.

Voluntary Sector Studies Network VSSN functions to promote the advancement of knowledge about, and understanding of, organisations between the market and the state. It provides a virtual and actual meeting point for scholars and researchers both outside and within the voluntary (third or non-profit) sector(s), with a shared analytic interest in this set of institutions. It is multidisciplinary, seeking to engage economists, historians, political scientists, sociologists, policy analysts and others. It aspires to a UK wide focus.