January 2023 Research Update: Highlights from Recent Reports in the Field

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.


Giving Big: The Impact of Large, Unrestricted Gifts on Nonprofits: Results from Year One of a Three-Year Study of MacKenzie Scott’s Giving
Center for Effective Philanthropy (2022)

In late July 2020, MacKenzie Scott made the shocking announcement that she had given $1.7 billion to 116 nonprofit organizations. The gifts came in the form of large, unrestricted grants with few reporting requirements. CEP has undertaken a three-year research study examining the impact of these large, unrestricted gifts on the recipient organizations. The study shows that these gifts have been transformational for the organizations and their leadership. The recipient nonprofits have used funds to increase their capacity and expand their existing work. A majority believe that the gifts are bringing them closer to achieving their mission, have strengthened their organization’s financial stability, and expanded their long-term organizational capacity. Despite concerns about the recipients’ ability to absorb such large gifts, few organizations have reported any challenges or disruptions to their work as a result of the contributions.


Funding to Bridge the Digital Divide: U.S. Philanthropic Giving to Digital Equity Causes
Connect Humanity, Candid (2022)

This report uses data from Candid to measure philanthropic giving to achieve digital equity – a state in which allindividuals have the digital access, tools, and skills they need to operate in our digitizing society. The study charts the fluctuation of grant funding awarded by large U.S. foundations over the past decade and explores further questions about giving between 2018-2020, including where funding was directed, the type of work it supported, and the population groups specifically targeted.

Analysis of foundation grantmaking shows that just 0.05 percent of overall giving from large U.S. foundations between 2010-2019 went to efforts to close the digital divide. Of that amount, 50.8 percent was awarded for program support, 24.4 percent for policy, advocacy and systems reform, and 23.4 percent for capital and infrastructure support. There was also a wide disparity in the geographic distribution of grants, with only 3.2 percent of the total dollars given for digital equity awarded in Southeast states. To better address the need for digital equity, the authors suggest that philanthropy could increase its grantmaking in this area from 0.05 percent of overall giving to 1 percent to provide a “1 for all” investment and ensure that all individuals and communities across the U.S. and around the world have the internet connectivity and tools that they need.


Corporate Foundations: Designing for Impact
CECP (2022)

Recognizing the growing importance of foundations in corporate giving strategy, CECP launched its Accelerate Community on the Future of Corporate Foundations in December 2019. Building on that inititiave, this report examines the landscape of corporate foundations, including key benchmarks on organizational structure, governance, staffing, giving strategy, employee engagement, and innovations in corporate philanthropy. Insights are drawn from CECP's annual Giving in Numbers survey, shorter Pulse surveys, and interviews with select member organizations. Each section includes case studies of corporate foundations to illustrate common practices in the field.


Increasing School Leader Diversity in Georgia
The Education Trust (2022)

School leadership is one of the most important in-school factors that affect students’ social, emotional, and academic development. To provide advocates and policymakers with context on this important issue, Ed Trust partnered with New Leaders to conduct a statewide and district-specific analysis of student and school leader demographics in Georgia public schools. Overall, 44 percent of all principals and assistant principals in Georgia identify as people of color, compared with 59 percent of students. Representation is strong among Black school leaders, but there are stark disparities between the numbers of Latino students and Latino leaders of color. The brief includes recommendations for state and district leaders in Georgia to develop stronger pipelines to create a diverse school leader workforce.


American Dream Prosperity Index 2022
Legatum Institute (2022)
Formerly known as the United States Prosperity Index, the American Dream Prosperity Index contains 200 indicators from more than 90 data sources, providing a comprehensive assessment of prosperity across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 1,481 counties. The index shows that while U.S. prosperity rebounded post-pandemic in 2022, rising inflation may threaten further progress. Prosperity increased across all nearly states in varying degrees but remains unequally distributed within individual states. Challenges to prosperity include increased gun crime and decreased mental health. The authors also note that a continuing decline in social cohesion and group relationships at all levels of America’s society risks impeding a common resolve to addressing the barriers to prosperity.


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Mission: Philanthropy Southeast strengthens Southern philanthropy, welcoming our members to listen, learn and collaborate on ideas and actions to help build an equitable, prosperous South.