What We Do

The Science of Philanthropy Initiative (SPI) is a research and outreach project that utilizes rigorous quantitative methods and partnerships with the philanthropic community to explore the motivations behind charitable giving.

Funded by a generous grant from The John Templeton Foundation, the overarching goal of SPI is to develop a deeper understanding of the types of social preferences that shape philanthropic giving and to apply this knowledge to both practitioners and policymakers interested in philanthropy and the private provision of public goods.

Evidence Based Research

SPI will facilitate and encourage collaboration between world-class research institutions to explore the following Big Questions:

  • Why do people give?
  • How do people give across the lifecycle and across cultures?
  • How to increase philanthropy?



In addition to new research contributions to the field, SPI is invested in partnering with the philanthropic community. We strive to serve as a link between the academic and the philanthropic communities. All research conducted at SPI will be done in collaboration with on-the-ground practitioners and the results will be applicable to others.

Our research will be applicable and relatable for our partners and others interested in the charitable-giving market.


SPI will serve as a catalyst of innovative partnerships. By bringing together social scientists, charitable organizations, individual donors and interested policy makers, SPI hopes to change the philanthropic market by providing evidence-based research that will inform the way practitioners operate. SPI will support collaboration by hosting: