International research: Measuring the impact of global giving

This is the second part in a five-part series highlighting the work of the President's International Research Award recipients. 

In the United States, philanthropy is closely measured, tracked and analyzed due to its far-reaching implications, from helping those in need to being properly accounted for tax purposes.

But philanthropy around the world, though just as prevalent as a cultural force, has been less measured, making it harder to study and learn about its effects.

Enter the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI -- and Una Osili.

Description of the following video:

[Video: An animated slide with white text appears on a red background.]

[Words appear on an animated slide: Philanthropy is near universal.]

[Words appear in upper-left corner: IUPUI presents]

[Animated slide: A spinning globe appears on a red background.]

[Animated slide: Two shaking hands appear on a red background.]

[Words appear on animated slide: Data has been missing from philanthropy.]

[Animated slide: Hands using an iPad appear. The hands are scrolling through data charts on a screen.]

Una Osili, an associate dean for research and international programs at the

Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, speaks in voiceover: Philanthropy, as you know, is near universal. Every country, culture, place of origin has a strong tradition around philanthropy, and that is a timeless part of every society that we know about. But what has not been present to date is data around philanthropy. In other countries, philanthropy is present, ...

[Video: Osili appears on camera.]

[Words appear: Una Osili, Associate dean for research and international programs, Lilly Family School of Philanthropy]

Osili speaks: ... but it hasn't been measured as systematically. So that's the big gap that the School of Philanthropy, the Lilly Family School, is trying to fill, is really the measurement piece.

[Video: An animated slide with text appears on a white background. An umbrella icon appears next to the text.]

[Words appear on animated slide: Global Philanthropy Indices]

Osili speaks in voiceover: Under the big umbrella of the Global Philanthropy Indices, we have the ...

[Video: An animated slide with text appears. The left half of the screen is red; right half is white. On the red side, a magnifying glass icon appears. Words appear under the magnifying glass: Global Philanthropy Environment Index.]

[On the white side, a bar chart appears. Words appear under the bar chart: Global Philanthropy Resource Flows Index.]

[More words appear on the slide: Under "Global Philanthropy Environment Index," it says "Looks at the environment and the conditions around philanthropy." Under "Global Philanthropy Resource Flows Index," it says "Measures size of resources that are going into philanthropic sector."]

Osili speaks in voiceover: ... Global Philanthropy Environment Index, and then we have the Global Resource Flows Index. They are sort of two sides of the same coin. The environment index looks at the environment and the conditions around philanthropy. The Resource Flows Index measures more directly the size of the resources that are going into the philanthropic sector.

[Video: Osili speaks on camera.]

Osili speaks: And for us, I think it's been gratifying to have that outreach come from various corners of the world where the question is "Well, why wasn't our country featured? We'd like to have that information." And we are also seeing country experts play a role in sharing the findings.

[Video: The video slowly zooms in on a photograph of a group of students and staff members in India. The student in the middle is holding an Indiana University pennant.]

[Video: The video slowly zooms in on a photograph of a group of students and staff members, along with IU President Michael A. McRobbie and IU first lady Laurie Burns McRobbie, in India.]

[Video: The video slowly zooms in on a photograph of two men sitting in front of a flag that reads "Indiana University China Gateway Beijing."]

[Video: The video slowly zooms in on a photograph of IUPUI Chancellor Nasser Paydar posing with others in front of the "Embassy Mexico City" seal.]

Osili speaks in voiceover: Indiana University is quite outstanding in its outreach internationally. But I think what this award allowed us to do is leverage the international infrastructure that IU is building, and actually add to that and complement that. We look at building this model in other parts of the world; we are identifying other partners that we can work with ...

[Video: Osili appears on camera.]

Osili speaks in voiceover: ... in India, in China, in Thailand, in Mexico City and, ideally, we are going to continue to do this work for many years to come. And as IU continues to grow and build out its international work, we can help support that growth as well.

[Screen goes to white]

[Words appear: To learn more about the Global Indices, visit: globalindices.iupui.edu]

[Screen goes to black]

[IU trident appears]

[Words appear: IUPUI]

[Words appear: Fulfilling the promise]

[Words appear: iupui.edu]

[END OF TRANSCRIPT]

Video by Samantha Thompson, Indiana University

The associate dean for research and international programs and professor of economics and philanthropic studies headed an effort to recruit more than 100 country- and region-level experts to glean information about philanthropy in their areas. Their work became the Global Philanthropy Environment Index.

"Different stakeholders want to know how much is being given, what causes are benefiting and how the environment itself is incentivizing philanthropy," Osili said. "That's where the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy has been able to play a role, because there really hadn't been an effort to measure and track these conditions in a systemic way across different parts of the world."

The Global Philanthropy Environment Index was released in April 2018, with the next stage of research -- the Global Philanthropy Resource Flows Index -- slated for release in 2020. Together, the two studies comprise the school's ongoing Global Philanthropy Indices project.

Among the in-depth findings are a continued heavy interest in philanthropy in countries around the world, with political factors playing a bigger role than economics.

Una OsiliView print quality image
Una Osili presented at the European launch of the Global Philanthropy Environment Index at the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt in Berlin, Germany, in June. Photo courtesy of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy
"We wanted to study how social norms and cultural traditions were changing around philanthropy," Osili said. "And that was probably one of the more interesting and, I think, noteworthy findings -- that across countries and regions of the world, there was much less variation in the sociocultural environment.

"It's not so much the economics that are an impediment to philanthropy, but often the political environment."

Such findings would have been possible only with boots-on-the-ground experts across the world, and Osili said building that first-of-its-kind network was just as exciting as the work it produced.

"Some scholars have been able to connect with others in the field and continue to build relationships and work on projects together even beyond the global indices," Osili said.

For her work on the indices, Osili received the President's International Research Award -- a personal honor, but one she says is more of a testament to the university's continued international reach.

"What this award allowed us to do is leverage the international infrastructure that IU is building, and actually add to that and complement that," she said.

"As we look at building this model in other parts of the world, we're identifying other partners that we can work with. Ideally, we are going to continue to do this work for many years to come."

Read part 1 of the series  Read part 3 of the series

 Read part 4 of the series Read part 5 of the series