Research Round Robin: April 2019

We’ve collected another month’s worth of research that interested us and has broad sector relevance. This set comes from recent weeks and includes insights on how grantmaking and fundraising plays out among women and people of color, the impact of light pollution on migratory birds, and the many ways that voluntary activity impacts communities and individual lives.

An Economy for All

A study released in February by the New Venture Fund and Arabella Advisors outlines the financial upsides to inclusive venture-capital (VC) investing, and underscores how philanthropy can play a “catalytic” role in shifting the current status quo. Right now, there is drastic underinvestment in VC firms led by women and people of color. The study cites research that has the current investment rate for women at about 2% of all VC funding, and 5% for firms led by African American and Latinx entrepreneurs. The authors believe that philanthropic organizations, with their large endowments and missions that are often focused on addressing inequity, are in a unique position to set the tone and standard for all asset managers. Along with philanthropy, the report authors identify measures that community investment banks and donors can take to ensure that their capital is invested equitably.

More on the study:
• Venture Capital Overlooks Women and Minorities; Philanthropy Should Step In, Study Says

Intersection of Race, Giving and Gender

Last month, the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) released a new report about the intersection of race, giving, and gender. It was released in time for Women’s History Month as part of WPI’s I Am a Philanthropist campaign with YWCA Metropolitan Chicago and Facebook. The digital media site Refinery29 dedicated their homepage and Twitter handle to elevating the insights from the report on its official launch day of March 19. Refinery29’s headline story on the campaign emphasized that the popular image of a philanthropist is generally not accessible to millennial women. WPI’s research highlights the contributions women are already making to their communities with the hope of shifting the narrative — showing that you don’t have to be rich to make a meaningful impact. WPI is one of Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy’s three institutes dedicated to research and education around timely issues in philanthropy.

More on the report:
• The ‘Intersectional’ Gender Lens in Philanthropy and Impact Investing
• All the single ladies and people of color: Study looks at the changing face of philanthropy

Bright Lights In The Big Cities: Migratory Birds’ Exposure To Artificial Light

A new study published at the beginning of April examined two decades of satellite data and weather radar technology to determine which U.S. cities are the most dangerous for birds. The study focused on light pollution, a major factor in as many as 1 billion fatal collisions birds have with buildings each year. Many major cities are in the primary migratory corridor for many bird species, including Chicago, where the most collision fatalities were recorded. One of the study’s authors, Kyle Horton, noted in a conversation about the study that skyscrapers aren’t the only problem, and that residences can also contribute to dangerous levels of light pollution. Horton is a post-doctoral fellow at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which has a number of online resources about migratory patterns to help individuals know when they can help by turning off their lights. Along with the Cornell lab, IS member National Audubon Society has been at the helm of efforts through the years aimed at reducing the lethal collisions, including their Lights Out Initiative.

More on the study:
• 
Big Cities, Bright Lights And Up To 1 Billion Bird Collisions

Value of Volunteer Time

April is National Volunteer Month and this year’s National Volunteer Week fell on the week of April 7-13. It’s why, around this time of year, you may notice many nonprofits citing the national estimated value of a volunteer hour, or the value for their own state (maybe you even do it yourself to celebrate your own volunteers!). For the uninitiated, that value comes from us! Each year during National Volunteer Week, we publish the updated national Value of Volunteer Time, as well as the values for all 50 states, DC, and Puerto Rico. While there are several ways in which volunteer contributions cannot be quantified, the dollar value is particularly important for advocacy purposes, and we’re pleased to be able to share it every year. We shared the latest values on April 11, and we encourage you to check our Value of Volunteer Time resource page to learn more about the importance of volunteering, and the methodology we used to calculate the new values.

More on the Value of Volunteer Time:
• Volunteer Time Value Hits All-Time High

Senior Corps & Health Benefits

Just this week, the Corporation for National and Community Service published a new report detailing the success of Senior Corps in helping low-income, at-risk Americans 55 and older to live happier, healthier lives while making a difference in their communities. The report shows positive signs across several health indicators for Senior Corps volunteers. For example, 84% of volunteers reported improved or stable health after two years of service in Senior Corps. In the same vein, 78% of volunteers who reported five or more symptoms of depression said they felt less depressed two years later, and an astonishing 88% who described a lack of companionship when they started said they felt less isolated after two years.

Add Your Voice

The research summaries above are by no means an exhaustive list of the newest information out there to help us better understand the nonprofit landscape. So if we missed a report you think we should know and share about, let us know by leaving a comment!

Types: Blog
Global Topics: Data, Environment, IS Member, Nonprofit Capital, Race, Equity, and Inclusion