The Generosity Commission
Over the last decade, we have seen declines in the number of people donating to charity or volunteering, changes in the demographics of participation, and growing questions about which actions and which communities get counted or left out in traditional measures of giving and volunteering.
In response to the challenges facing generosity in America, leadership from The Giving Institute and Giving USA Foundation began to investigate the idea of a commission that could address these concerns. Out of this exploratory effort, the Generosity Commission was born.
The Generosity Commission is a nonpartisan group of individuals from across the charitable sector with a mission to celebrate and support Americans’ spirit of generosity as expressed through everyday giving, volunteering, and other forms of civic engagement. Jane Wales, Vice President of the Aspen Institute and Executive Director of the Program on Philanthropy and Social Innovation, serves as Co-Chair.
The Generosity Commission’s Work
Through research and conversations online and in person, the Generosity Commission seeks to contribute to national understanding about how individual givers and volunteers are reimagining generosity in powerful and positive ways, strengthening our society and democracy in the process. The Generosity Commission believes that the more Americans explore the power of generosity and the role they can play in building a resilient society, the more likely they are to give time or treasure—in the knowledge that their generosity matters not only to their recipients, but to the health of our society overall.
The Generosity Commission will conclude its work in Fall 2023 with recommendations focused on ways that the business, nonprofit, and policy sectors can support and enable everyday giving and volunteering. Ultimately, the Commission seeks to foster a culture of individual and collective generosity in the face of the social and economic challenges our society faces today.
Commissioned research already completed includes:
- How We Give Now: Conversations Across the United States (Stanford PACS, 2020; Research Conducted for The Generosity Commission) reinforces the breadth and scope of generosity in America and how people choose, in many different ways, to support each other, social issues and communities. However, it also reveals that the way we count and perceive generosity needs to change.
- The Urban Institute’s Nonprofit Trends and Impact Survey report examines how giving to community-based and social service organizations across the U.S. has been vital to American life during the pandemic. The research shows that generous people continue to be generous and highlights the risks to us and our communities when giving declines.
Upcoming research includes:
- A project led by the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice on how the pandemic has affected American giving of time, money, and support to community members.
- A study by The Do Good Institute at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy exploring how social connectedness may affect giving, volunteering, and other kinds of civic engagement.
A National Conversation
Working with partners to prompt conversations online and in person, the Generosity Commission will engage individuals and communities around the country with its research findings and hear their recommendations as to how government policy, business practice, or organized philanthropy can remove barriers to and enhance the impact of their generosity.