April 2024 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 2024
Johnson Center at Grand Valley State University (2024)
This annual publication from the Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University identifies 11 key trends for the social sector for 2024. Each trend is discussed in detail in an essay written by a faculty member or expert in the field. Key trends for 2024 include the expansion of access to higher education to incarcerated individuals; an uptick in philanthropy led by Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities; the need for greater support for Black women leaders; a call for greater investment in the U.S. South; anticipated challenges to federal race and ethnicity standards; the affordable housing crisis; growing adoption of fiscal sponsorship in the sector; the emergence of artificial intelligence; donor anonymity under the microscope; the promise of Generation Z; and influencer philanthropy on the rise. A related webinar is also available to view online.


Social Connectedness and Generosity: A Look at How Associational Life and Social Connections Influence Volunteering and Giving (and Vice Versa)
Do Good Institute, University of Maryland School of Public Policy (2024)
This second report in a two-part series examines the connections between voluntarism, social connectedness, and charitable giving. The study found that people who volunteered in the previous year were 14.5 percent more likely to give in the current year, and people who gave in the previous year were 9.3 percent more likely to volunteer in the current year. The study also describes how other forms of civic engagement influence volunteering and giving. People who belong to, or participate in, one or more community groups or organizations in the previous year were significantly more likely to volunteer and were more likely to donate money. Another significant finding was that volunteering and giving appear to increase the likelihood that adults vote in national elections, showing the connection between charitable behavior and civic engagement. Volunteering (for any cause, not just a political one) increases voter turnout probability by 12 percentage points, while giving increases voter turnout probability by 10.1 percentage points.


How Foundations Are Responding to the U.S. Supreme Court Affirmative Action Rulings
The Center for Effective Philanthropy (2024)
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s June 2023 rulings against race-based admissions policies at universities, there was concern that future rulings could impact philanthropic efforts to support racial equity. To find out how foundations are responding to the decisions, CEP surveyed and interviewed foundation leaders about their outlook and plans. Findings showed that while most foundations were discussing the rulings internally, few planned to make changes, and some were, in fact, leaning into racial equity work more deeply. A smaller percentage of foundations reported having had or planning to have discussions with their grantees about the implications of the Supreme Court rulings, and about three in 10 had consulted legal counsel.


Responsible AI Adoption in Philanthropy: An Initial Framework for Grantmakers
Technology Association of Grantmakers, Project Evident (2023)
As society grapples with the increasing prevalence of artificial intelligence (AI) tools, this framework addresses the need for grantmakers to adopt AI in alignment with their core values. The framework is based on input from nearly 300 practitioners, leaders, and partners in the social sector. It emphasizes the responsibility of philanthropic organizations to ensure that the usage of AI enables human flourishing, minimizes risk, and maximizes benefit. Key components of the framework include ethical, organizational, and technical considerations – all of which are covered in a checklist format. Beyond AI adoption, the framework also calls for foundations to play a crucial role in advancing the responsible use of AI for enhancing nonprofit organizational efficiency.


The Philanthropy Outlook 2024 & 2025
IUPUI Lilly Family School of Philanthropy (2024)
This edition of the Philanthropy Outlook provides nonprofit leaders, fundraisers, scholars, and practitioners with critical information about the charitable giving environment in 2024 and 2025. The report finds that total giving in 2024 and 2025 will be linked with some well-known economic factors: personal income, net worth, and the S&P 500. Based on these factors, the authors predict that total giving will increase by 4.2 percent in 2024 and by 3.9 percent in 2025. Foundation giving is predicted to increase even more significantly – by 10.3 percent in 2024 and by 5.3 percent in 2025 due in part to above-average growth in the S&P 500. Other factors that could influence actual outcomes include consumer confidence, market stability, and potential policy changes to the tax code.


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


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