WPI Receives $1.9 Million Gates Grant for Women’s Giving Research

The Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy is partnering with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on a new nearly two million dollar grant whose goal is to “advance actionable, global research on women’s giving to inform and equip donors and nonprofits.”

Jeannie Sager, Director, Women’s Philanthropy Institute
Photo Credit: Women’s Philanthropy Institute

The funding will fuel WPI’s ongoing research on domestic and global women’s giving, and empower organizations, donors and fundraisers to put these research insights into practice. Since 2015, WPI has conducted research on gender and philanthropy that helps inform the foundation’s Giving By All initiative, which is focused on growing giving and helping donors give more effectively and strategically.

WPI’s research focuses on a range of topics including impact-investing and giving to benefit women and girls. The three-year grant from the Gates Foundation grant will allow WPI to deepen its research on gender differences and their effects across philanthropy. Upcoming research will explore giving patterns among Millennials and Gen Z, and how women and men engage with crowdfunding.

“Change is happening rapidly all around us: in philanthropy, technology, women’s wealth, and diversity and inclusion. Our research must facilitate understanding of these changes and meet the needs of today’s donors and practitioners” notes Debra Mesch, Ph.D., Professor of Philanthropic Studies at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and the Eileen Lamb O’Gara Chair in Women’s Philanthropy. Mesch adds that the Gates Foundation funding. “… will help WPI uncover relevant trends and insights about gender and giving that can ultimately fuel the growth of women’s philanthropy around the world.”

The grant will also support WPI’s work on developing materials for practitioners, and collaborating with partners to gather case studies and best practices. Jeannie Sager, Women’s Philanthropy Institute Director, notes the transformative power of research in increasing philanthropic giving. She adds that WPI will focus on “gathering empirical evidence to show how organizations are incorporating research learnings into their work effectively — and then disseminating those stories to our broader community.”

The Women’s Philanthropy Institute is dedicated to conducting, curating, and disseminating research that illuminates and increases women’s philanthropy, including understanding how gender shapes giving behavior. By addressing significant and groundbreaking research questions and translating that research into increased understanding and improvements in practice, WPI helps to leverage new and expanded resources for the common good.

WPI’s research includes the “Women & Girls Index,” which identifies 45,000+ organizations in the United States dedicated to women and girls. The WPI is housed at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, whose mission is to increase understanding of philanthropy and improves its practice worldwide through critical inquiry, interdisciplinary research, teaching, training, and civic engagement.

In The News

WPI’s recent research has included “Women Give 2020 – New Forms of Giving in a Digital Age,” which explores giving and technology through a gender lens. The report reveals key differences in how women and men give online. In early September, WPI will release new research on giving during COVID.

PW has extensively covered WPI’s research and initiatives, including Not Enough! Giving for Women and Girls Totals $6.3 Billion in U.S., an article on the “Women and Girls Index.”

Other PW articles on WPI include:

WPI Study: What Influences Men Vs. Women to Give to Gender Equality?

Feminist Giving is Better: WPI Research Reveals Why

New Research from WPI Highlights Race and Gender Variables in Giving

Plug In! WPI 2020 Symposium Focuses on Tech and Giving Synergies

The Butterfly Effect: Tracking the Growth of Women’s Funds

Liveblog of WPI: How Giving Circles Diversify Philanthropy


Philanthropy Women covers funding for gender equity in all sectors of society. We want to significantly shift public discourse, particularly in philanthropy, toward increased action for gender equality. You can support our work and access unlimited and premium content with one of our subscriptions.

Author: Tim Lehnert

Tim Lehnert is a writer and editor who lives in Cranston, Rhode Island. His articles and essays have appeared in the Boston Globe, the Providence Journal, Rhode Island Monthly, the Boston Herald, the Christian Science Monitor, and elsewhere. He is the author of the book Rhode Island 101, and has published short fiction for kids and adults in a number of literary journals and magazines. He received an M.A. in Political Science from McGill University, and an M.A. in English from California State University, Northridge.

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