April 2022 Research Update: Highlights from Recent Reports in the Field

By Stephen Sherman

Philanthropy Southeast’s online Research Library is regularly updated with the latest reports relevant to Southern philanthropy. Members can browse over 500 research reports, websites, case studies, and other resources we have cultivated to help funders stay abreast of trends in the field and learn about emerging best practices in philanthropy. 

Below are some of the key findings and highlights of the newest additions to the Research Library. If you would like to suggest a resource or have other feedback, contact Stephen Sherman, Philanthropy Southeast’s Director of Research and Data, at or (404) 524-0911.


11 Trends in Philanthropy for 2022
Johnson Center at Grand Valley State University (2022)
This white paper from the Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University projects 11 key trends for the social sector for 2022. Each trend is highlighted in an essay written by a faculty member or expert in the field. Key trends for 2022 include the proliferation of cryptocurrency; reopening of Pell Grants for incarcerated individuals; growth in animal-focused philanthropy; increasing involvement of philanthropy in culture wars; innovations in talent investment; further attention to the decline in household giving; donors of color at the leading edge of new forms of giving; expanding definitions of philanthropy and philanthropists; a new era of engagement with indigenous communities; the rise of data philanthropy; and growing skepticism of social media in the sector.


The Charitable Tax Deduction and Civic Engagement
University of Virginia School of Law (2021)
In this academic paper, the authors argue in favor of expanding and refocusing the charitable deduction as a method of both encouraging charitable giving and increasing civic engagement. The paper focuses on the impact of the charitable deduction on donors rather than on the organizations that are the recipients of donations. The authors show that the charitable deduction increases volunteerism among donors in addition to encouraging further giving. They also report new evidence that volunteerism is associated with broader civic and political engagement, including engagement with people of different cultures, races, and ethnicities. The authors propose a new refundable tax credit that, in their words, would turn “low- and middle-income households from clients of charities to donors, which can both empower them and help remedy inequalities in civic and political participation.”


Economic Vitality and Education in the South: Part I: The South's Pre-Pandemic Position
Southern Education Foundation (2022)
This first report report in the Economic Vitality and Education in the South (EVES) series provides insights into a range of external factors affecting education and academic achievement for students in the South. These factors include poverty and food insecurity, housing, interaction with the criminal justice system, workplace practices, childcare and early childhood education, and student discipline. The report explores persistent and historic outcome gaps for Black, Hispanic, and low-income Americans and discusses how inequities in the education system and the labor force – due to these persistent gaps – are often more pronounced in the South.


Rural America: Philanthropy’s Misunderstood Opportunity for Impact
FSG (2021)
This publication from FSG provides an introduction to the current state of rural America, root causes of the challenges facing rural communities, missed opportunities for impact, and implications for philanthropy. The authors provide a set of recommended best practices for funders investing in rural communities, which include co-creating solutions and supporting community-led approaches; strengthening partnerships between rural areas and anchor towns and metros; and taking a systems-level approach to developing programs and solutions. The paper also lists organizations working on rural issues, and an appendix highlights specific issues of importance to rural communities.


Philanthropy Always Sounds Like Someone Else: A Portrait of High Net Worth Donors of Color
Donors of Color Network (2022)
In this report from the Donors of Color Network asserts that high net worth donors of color have been disregarded by mainstream philanthropy, at least in part, because of assumptions about, and the realities of, the racial wealth gap in the United States. The authors argue that this disregard has material consequences for nonprofits and philanthropy in terms of fundraising and stakeholder engagement. The lack of focus on donors of color overall, and on high net worth donors of color specifically, is identified as a by-product of racialized structures of donor network-building, social capital, wealth management, donor advising, and fundraising that undergird the field of philanthropy. The report is intended to serve as a resource and provides a call to action for philanthropy to create an equitable solution to the inequal treatment of donors of color.


Stephen Sherman is Philanthropy Southeast's director of research and data.


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