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David P. King: Faith & Philanthropy

In this episode we discuss the links between religion, faith and giving with David P. King, Karen Lake Buttrey Director of the Lake Institute on Faith & Giving and Associate Professor of Philanthropic Studies at the Lilly Family School on Philanthropy at Indiana University- Purdue University, Indiana.



  • How important a part does faith play in motivating and shaping approaches to giving in the modern world?
  • What role has it played historically?
  • When it comes to faith as a factor in philanthropy, what is most important:
    • Observance of specific religious requirements to give (e.g. tithing, Tzedakah, Zakat)?
    • Broader religious teachings on ethics & responsibility?
    • Attendance at places of worship?
    • A sense of shared religious identity?
  • How do religious teachings on the nature of poverty and justice affect the likelihood of their followers giving and the ways in which they give?
  • Are we seeing a decline in faith in places like the UK and the US, or simply a shift away from organised, collective religion to more informal, individual spirituality? What impact might this have on giving?
  • Are places of worship important in maintaining cultures of giving?
  • To what extent is this because of their religious nature and to what extent is it simply because they are community buildings that bring people together, or act as a location for grassroots/informal activity?
  • At a time when secular community spaces are becoming fewer, do places of worship have an increasingly important role to play as community anchors? Are they  embracing this role, and how?
  • How much of the giving that goes towards religion in the US is for the maintenance of religious institutions themselves, and how much gets passed on into wider charitable activities?
  • What role has faith (especially missionary faith) played in shaping the field of international development and humanitarian aid?
  • Does faith still play an important role today? (E.g. given that quite a few major INGOs have religious roots, and are ostensibly still religious orgs)
  • Does the academic study of philanthropy and civil society need to do more in terms of taking into account the role of faith groups?
  • What challenges does this pose? (i.e. Different literatures/concepts, specialist knowledge of the structures of religious orgs required etc?).

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