Meet Pamala Wiepking, Ph.D., the newly-appointed Visiting Stead Family Chair in International Philanthropy and visiting associate professor in philanthropy studies. She also sits on the advisory board for the Global Philanthropy Indices.
Educational experience: M.A. Sociology – Utrecht University, Netherlands; Ph.D. Philanthropic Studies – Vrije University – Amsterdam, Netherlands
Previous experience: Assistant Professor – Erasmus University Rotterdam, Assistant Professor – Vrije University Amsterdam, Adjunct Fellow – Queensland University of Technology
Research interests/areas of study: Global and cross cultural philanthropy, donor motivations, fundraising
Introduction to the study of philanthropy: “When I was completing my master’s degree in quantitative sociology at Utrecht University, I met René Bekkers, who was working at this department of philanthropic studies at Vrije University – Amsterdam. That department was led by Theo Schuyt.
“I applied for a position there and began working on the ‘Giving in the Netherlands’ project, which is comparable to Giving USA. I also coordinated an executive education program for people working in the Dutch philanthropic sector.
“After several years, Theo Schuyt recommended that I earn a Ph.D. in philanthropic studies because I was very research-oriented and driven. So I started that, and at the same time, began working on a literature review with Bekkers that included all of the interdisciplinary content published on philanthropic studies we could find. What was really rewarding, is that people explained to us that the review helped them better understand the many disciplines studying philanthropy.”
Wiepking completed her Ph.D. in 2008, then began working another large project that crisscrossed the globe.
Background behind The Palgrave Handbook on Global Philanthropy: In 2009, Wiepking received a grant to design and launch her own research project focused on cross-cultural philanthropy. She began researching data on individual giving, collaborating with the people who collected this data based on their respective countries. With the help of many volunteers, including Sohyun Park from Korea and Zbignev Gricevic from Germany, they also made the data sets comparable in order to learn what actually influences charitable behavior.
“I wanted to understand how people across the world define and view philanthropy, especially what it is in a country’s context, e.g. the culture, history, laws and regulations, fiscal incentives, structuring of nonprofit organizations, etc., that encourages or deters individual giving.
“I also planned to edit a book featuring people from all over the world who explained philanthropy in their own countries. When I attended a Women’s Philanthropy Institute event in 2011, I met Femida Handy, a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania. After speaking with her, she excitedly agreed to help me on this project, and has become a valuable mentor to me ever since.”
Completion of book: Wiepking and Handy worked over several years with multiple scholars and practitioners to write and edit chapters on philanthropy around the world. “It required a great deal of energy and effort, but we were able to publish the book, titled The Palgrave Handbook on Global Philanthropy, in 2015.
“The book won the Virginia Hodgkinson Research Award (given to the best book on philanthropy and the nonprofit sector that informs policy and practice) at the ARNOVA conference in 2016. I’m very proud of the work we and all the authors did.”
Classes she will teach: Principles and Practices of Fundraising (graduate), Philanthropy in Global Context (undergraduate), study abroad course
Why Lilly Family School of Philanthropy? “This school is the top school in the world to study philanthropy, and has fantastic faculty that have a wide range of perspectives on philanthropy. I’m excited to work here and in Europe to conduct research, teach classes, and broaden the school’s international network.”
What makes the students special: “There are many wonderful students you can work with here, while helping them develop their own perspectives on philanthropy and the impact they want to make in the world. I’m excited to find out what their aspirations are and how I can contribute.”
Goals for research/classes here: “I want to know how someone across the world thinks about and understands philanthropy, and how it can be best studied. Philanthropy means something different in every country and in every culture, and including voices from different cultures, disciplines, and perspectives is important.”
Fun fact/free time: Wiepking has two young children who are living in the United States with her for the next five months. “We enjoy taking family trips to the zoo, museums, and other places. It will be interesting living in a different culture for six months, but we see it as an adventure. My hope is that they will learn and grow from this experience. Their first step: learning that very few people speak Dutch here!”
Final thought: “This is my dream job. It involves a lot of our changes, but I believe that together with the students and faculty of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy I will be able to have an impact on the world, and create more generous societies, where people care for each other.”