Whether it’s about asking or giving, effective professionals and volunteers rely on rules of thumb and well-worn conventions to get the job done. Experience, after all, has been a trusted teacher for eons. What can science add that is so special?
First, science uncovers general patterns that span more experiences than any one person or institution can have. Experiments are the gold standard of science, and John List has used them to demonstrate that matches work to increase the likelihood of a gift and its size. Does the proportion of the match matter? Will a 2-to-1 or even 3-to-1 match yield better results than a 1-1 match?
If you are curious, you can attend the Science of Philanthropy Initiative Conference this September 21 and 22 and ask John List, who is not only a prominent member of the University of Chicago Economics Faculty but also Visiting Hartsook Chair in Fundraising at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.
Joining John in organizing the conference are his colleague Christopher Clapp from the University of Chicago, Luigi Butera from Copenhagen Business School, Sarah Konrath, Mark Ottoni-Wilhem, Richard Steinberg, and myself from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. There will be three terrific keynote speakers, beginning with Cecilia Conrad, of Lever for Change and the MacArthur Foundation, who is a leading practitioner but also an award-winning researcher in her own right. Daniel Hungerman an economist from Notre Dame, is an expert on philanthropy and religion. Finally, Azim Shariff from the University of British Columbia is a social psychologist who researches how morality intersects with religion, cultural attitudes, and economics. They will be joined by scholars sharing their latest research and practitioners keen to engage in systematic approaches to the practices they have implemented in the field.
From the start, the Science of Philanthropy Initiative (SPI) has sought not only to advance science but to also bring scholars and practitioners together. What conventional measures can withstand the scrutiny of the scientific method? And what scientific insights can meet the needs of relevance in the field?
The Initiative is building bridges across the distance that separates scholarship and practice, and the different cultures and languages of each. It is by bringing research and practice together that philanthropy can advance and enhance its impact. Unfortunately, our gatherings over the past two years have been virtual. You can get a flavor of our conversations by viewing the 2021 Virtual SPI Seminar Series (held in lieu of a conference), or the 2020 Virtual Conference.
The annual conference, when there is no pandemic, alternates between Chicago and Indianapolis. This year’s venue for the conference will be the NCAA facility that abuts IUPUI’s Indianapolis campus and every attendee will receive a special gift, John List’s latest book, The Voltage Effect. We may even be able to entice him to sign it for you.
We are thrilled to be able to convene this special community again in person and have had strong interest from colleagues who lead different kinds of data-driven philanthropic initiatives who will be joining us for the first time. We welcome all those who share our curiosity about how science can elevate philanthropy. Register today!