This past year, the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy has celebrated its 30th anniversary as a center and school with multiple events, memorable quotes, words of inspiration, and more.
While there are thousands of faculty, staff, students, and alumni who have passed through the school’s doors, there are several individuals who have stayed with the then-center and school throughout the entirety of its history.
One of those individuals played an instrumental role in bringing The Fund Raising School to Indiana University and beginning the Center on Philanthropy. He also played a pivotal role as the founding dean when the center became a school in 2012.
Here, he shares some of his thoughts on the past 30 years and where he hopes to see the school venture next.
Dr. Gene Tempel remembers his first experience with philanthropy when his family’s house burned down, and his Southern Indiana neighbors all chipped in to help the family rebuild its life. Without any nonprofits in his small town, the church and church volunteers stepped in to help families when they needed it.
“I’ve been fascinated by philanthropy ever since that moment, but there wasn’t a way to think about it or talk about it with anybody. It was just something that people did,” Dr. Tempel said.
Years later when working in higher education in Indiana and Missouri, Dr. Tempel saw groups of people identify prospects and work together to fundraise. However, it wasn’t until he earned the job of assistant dean of development at the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University (Bloomington) in 1980 that he learned more about professionalized fundraising.
“I knew how to work with faculty, but I didn’t know anything about fundraising,” he said. “Then, this flyer came across my desk from The Fund Raising School. I met Hank and Dottie Rosso when I began taking courses and found the concepts Hank talked about fascinating.”
After that meeting, Dr. Tempel became more convinced that there should be a way to study and work on fundraising and philanthropy in an academic setting. An opportunity arose when a conversation with Mr. Rosso led to the idea of transferring The Fund Raising School to IUPUI and housing it in an academic institution. With help from Charles Johnson, the vice president of Lilly Endowment, and the support of the Endowment, they were able to transfer The Fund Raising School to Indianapolis and IUPUI.
It wasn’t always an easy journey, but Dr. Tempel and his colleagues worked hard to establish the center as a leading expert in the field. After receiving a grant from Lilly Endowment, the center was able to re-grant part of it to faculty applying their discipline to the study of philanthropy in order to help build talent in the field.
“We were able to bend these faculty members to conducting research through the lens of philanthropy by giving them course development grants,” Dr. Tempel said. “In addition to those research grants, the center also gave national dissertation fellowships to people studying philanthropy, nonprofit organizations, fundraising, and other related topics.”
However, it wasn’t just about the center. “One of our measures of success was that there were other places across the country doing this research,” he said. “We wanted to build a field of inquiry and education that went beyond ourselves. I believe we have succeeded in building and expanding the professional study and teaching of philanthropy.”
While other universities began and then dropped programs related to philanthropy, the Center on Philanthropy not only survived, it thrived.
“We had a lot of support. Many people contributed to the success of the center,” Dr. Tempel said. “It also became more acceptable at universities around the country to study philanthropy from an academic lens.
“One of my proudest moments and favorite memories was when we established the Ph.D. program in 2003. I realized that we had in fact built a field and had enough knowledge and faculty power base to accomplish this. We had built in one place the largest and most incredible faculty solely dedicated to this subject.”
Throughout the past 30 years, Dr. Tempel believes that the center and school has had a powerful impact on philanthropic research and the nonprofit sector.
“In addition to the grants and fellowships, we looked for people to draw in and ways we could be of assistance to people studying subjects close to or in the field,” he said. “Every time we helped someone build or create a new program, we enhanced the reputation of the center and school and became the go-to place on philanthropy.”
What does he find more satisfying, though? The impact of studying philanthropy on students and alumni.
“It’s easy to point out people who are in leadership positions in foundations, in fundraising, in other nonprofit work,” Dr. Tempel said. “We see that we made a small difference in their lives and their ability to be leaders in their organizations and communities.”
For Dr. Tempel personally, the influence has been tangible.
“Putting together the first courses on principles and practices of fundraising, nonprofit law, and following courses was one of my favorite roles,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed being students’ and now alumni’s teachers and mentors. Adding a budget in the original proposal for a philanthropic studies library with Dr. Jan Shipps was vital.
“I love looking out and seeing what other people are doing and how it relates to the idea that you had. Young people are going to continue to grow and develop the field in the next generation.”
In the next 30 years, Dr. Tempel hopes to see the school work with other subjects and schools to create a more comprehensive curriculum.
“I hope the school continues to grow and develop and that there will be more collaboration among faculty,” he said. “It’s an interdisciplinary program, which is on the rise in the university, and we can lead the way with that.
“This organization means so much to me. I realized once I helped start the Center on Philanthropy in 1987 that I could never leave it. Even when I became president of the IU Foundation, I did it with the knowledge that they would continue to build the center into becoming a school. Some people suggested that the capstone to my career was becoming the president of the IU Foundation. While that work was important, the most rewarding role for me has been building the center and school. I consider that a life’s work.”