How We Give Now: Philanthropy by the Rest of Us


People find many different ways to show they care about their communities and the world around them.

We help our neighbors, volunteer our time, invest in local businesses, vote, mobilize after disasters, give money to nonprofits, shop in line with our values, run for office, organize our communities for policy change, subscribe to local newspapers, and donate our health information to help doctors find medical cures.

The How We Give Now research project engages individuals and groups in a reflective discussion about all the ways they direct their private resources for public benefit, beyond what is traditionally captured in official giving data.


Centered around facilitated group conversations, the project engages people to identify, map, and reflect on their personal and group Giving Landscape – the multiple ways they give, from point of sale donations to political activism, crowdfunding to volunteering.

Throughout the summer of 2019 a team from Stanford PACS will facilitate workshops in diverse communities across the United States. Workshops are co-hosted by community groups, faith institutions, giving circles, small business groups, professional associations, and other local partners in each  community.

Participants individually and collectively create a “Giving Landscape,” organizing their giving into categories ranging from lifestyle choices to civic action to remittances. They are then asked to reflect on the map, along with national data on different giving activities. Each map is recorded, along with optional demographic information, and shared back with the group.

The research team will analyze the anonymous data from the workshops for insights into the types of giving activities, prevalence of each type, relationships between activities and other trends. Depending on the robustness of optional demographic information donated by participants, the data may also be analyzed according to these characteristics. All participant groups will receive copies of their own individual and collective Giving Landscapes. These may be first of many conversations that the community can continue and will own.

The research will inform Lucy Bernholz’s book, How We Give Now: Philanthropy by the Rest of Us (forthcoming 2021 from MIT Press).



Giving Landscapes