Start Center - Strategic Analysis, Research & Training Center

START conducts research and analysis on donations, volunteering, and social outcomes

START conducts research and analysis on donations, volunteering, and social outcomes

The Generosity Commission, a nonpartisan group with expertise around philanthropy, conducted a literature review in 2018 which examined how a variety of factors interact and how they relate to current giving trends. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (MBGF) engaged the Strategic Analysis, Research, and Training (START) Center to conduct an updated literature review to better understand the following:

  • The causes and implications of the decline in the number of donors and volunteers
  • The level and social impact of new diverse forms of giving and volunteering
  • The relationship between giving, volunteering, and social outcomes

Additionally, the START team was asked to focus specifically on giving by individuals who donated smaller dollar amounts.

The START team interviewed several subject matter experts in addition to conducting the literature review. To better understand the key questions, the START team made the following recommendations:

  • Address the heterogeneity of survey questionnaires that are focused on giving behaviors, and expand research to not only understand giving behaviors but the intrinsic motivations behind individual giving
  • Invest in research which examines how pathways, motivations, and behaviors differ among groups in respect to engagement in online giving
  • Redefine volunteerism and generosity to capture a more diverse perspective on how individuals define these behaviors
  • Focus efforts on ways to strengthen horizontal giving networks such as mutual aid, giving circles, and collective philanthropy to strengthen community engagement through giving


2 / 4 / 2022


Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Final Presentation

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Final Report

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