The Science of Philanthropy


For the past 10 years, the Blackbaud Institute Index has tracked year-over-year trends in philanthropy and annual giving statistics—with the goal of empowering organizations to know their sector and raise more, faster. Over this time, the Index has grown to track over $40 billion from over 8,400 organizations in the United States!

To celebrate we’ve invited some of our most trusted advisors, industry experts, and friendly faces to lead virtual fireside chats, podcast episodes, and more. We couldn’t have kicked off the series with a better guest than Chuck Longfield, renowned data scientist, philanthropy strategist, and the creator of the Blackbaud Institute Index! Now retired, Chuck allowed us to steal him from the golf course for a little while to sit down for a conversation with Steve MacLaughlin—lucky us!

In this excerpt, Chuck shares the inspiration behind the Blackbaud Institute Index and the value of such a significant and diverse data set when determining current trends and best practices in the sector. After the podcast, check out the full webinar, available on demand, where the two discuss the lessons Chuck has learned over his 40 year career, and put their heads together about how these lessons can help organizations navigate the road ahead.

Topics Covered in this episode:

  • Origins of the Blackbaud Institute Index
  • The Importance of benchmarking
  • Applying academic rigor to the study of philanthropy

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunesStitcher or your preferred streaming service for future episodes!


Blackbaud Institute Index’s 10th Anniversary Celebration

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“Because there really wasn’t any gold standard, different organizations can pick and choose their metrics can pick and choose the definitions of their metrics. And it causes organizations I think, too often, to come to the wrong conclusion about maybe what their next step should be. And so, for many of the years that I’ve been working in this area, I wanted to try to standardize these metrics.” – Chuck Longfield