Lake Institute on Faith & Giving began in 2002 through the generosity of both the late thomas h. lake and Marjorie Lake, their daughter Karen Lake Buttrey, her husband Don Buttrey, and lilly endowment, inc.. Housed within the Indiana University Lilly Family School Of Philanthropy at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, it serves as a unique institution seeking to foster a greater understanding of how faith inspires and informs giving through research, education, and public conversation.

Dr. Robert Wood Lynn, former vice president of religion at Lilly Endowment, was appointed the Institute’s inaugural director. In 2004, the Rev. Dr. William Enright, after recently retiring as senior pastor of Second Presbyterian Church, became the first full-time director. In 2020 Enright remains director emeritus, and the Rev. Dr. David P. King has served as the Karen Lake Buttrey Director of the Institute since 2014. Lake Institute also maintains a national advisory board of religious scholars and practitioners to help guide its work.

While the Institute has grown in size of the staff, budget, and programs over the past decade, its mission remains the same. Lake Institute strives to work at the intersection of research and practice across all faith traditions. The Institute helps to build the emerging field of faith and philanthropy by supporting students through graduate assistantships at the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, funding the work of young and established scholars through research collaborations as well as awarding an annual dissertation scholarship since 2008. Lake Institute has also conducted its own research, such as the National Study of Congregations’ Economic Practices providing an overview of religious giving in the charitable sector.

Lake Institute also specializes in the education and training of practitioners. Through its many courses in partnership with religious institutions across the country, it has taught clergy, faith-based nonprofit leaders, religious educators, donors, and fundraisers. At the heart of Lake Institute’s mission, these courses have reached over 10,000 congregations, nonprofits, and individual donors.

In Indianapolis, Lake Institute’s annual public programs, The Thomas H. Lake Lecture and the Lake Distinguished Visitor Program invite noteworthy scholars and practitioners to share their research, professional expertise, and personal giving stories to develop an ongoing dialogue on the themes of faith and generosity.

Revised June 2021

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