Research Notes & Acknowledgements
The material in Do Good, Feel Better was drawn from various research initiatives led by Laura McKnight conducted over the course of several years, often with partners and collaborators, including in particular Ann-Marie Harrington.
Unlocking the secrets in the overlap between philanthropy and psychology produces a useful formula for building positive relationships and personal success, in families and even in the workplace.
Philanthropy is an important part of American culture. Our intention is to inspire more people, companies, and institutions to realize their own visions of doing good through the best possible personal experience. This, we believe, will in turn increase the effectiveness of philanthropy overall.
We’d seen enough in our careers to know that life can be improved by tapping the power of doing good for others and making yourself better at the same time. As we pursued the investigation into positive psychology and philanthropy, we were heavily influenced by research methods that were both academic and empirical. Our team is committed to rigorously staying on top of trends in the marketplace. We figure out what works with real people, one by one. We are as interested in little data as we are in big data because we believe solutions lie at the intersection of the two. We track behavior through media platforms we create for the purpose of observing employee and consumer behavior. We test ideas. We pilot initiatives. We seek new approaches and alternative strategies for improving the way doing good is experienced by the people doing it, especially employees in companies.
Giving to a charity is not the only way to do good. Philanthropy includes a wide range of other activities, including recycling, volunteering, serving on boards, donating canned goods or clothing, attending community events, marketing a favorite nonprofit, sharing with friends and families in need, purchasing brands that support causes, and caring for your own health and wellness.
In Do Good, Feel Better, we will show you how the discoveries in our research can inspire you to celebrate “what it means to be human” and help you develop even more qualities that make life worth living.
An extra special shout out to our editor, Kim Schworm Acosta, whose expertise, collaboration, and insights made this book a whole lot better! Kim has been an editor and writer for 20 years, specializing in health, psychology, parenting, and women’s issues. Her work has appeared in leading national publications including Parents, Brides, Shape, BuzzFeed, Family Circle, Writer’s Digest, and more. Currently, she is a gift books editor at Hallmark Cards, Inc. Find her at ksacosta.com.
Over the course of the research, our team surveyed thousands of people, interviewed hundreds of CEOs and executives, and thoroughly studied the existing literature. We pursued our inquiry through a series of initiatives, including:
SOCIAL IMPACT BENCHMARK
Launched in Kansas City in 2015, the Social Impact Benchmark began as a resource for communities across the country. The Social Impact Benchmark operated as a member-driven initiative offering research-based collaboration and educational opportunities for leaders and professionals who embrace best practices for employee engagement and brand enhancement through social impact activities. Interested persons may wish to visit socialimpactbenchmark.com to view the research and publications.
Social Impact Benchmark members included Truss, Bank of Kansas City, Core Catalysts, BalancePoint Corporation, McCormick Distilling Co., Acendas, Spencer Fane Britt & Browne, Jay Mulligan, Certified Financial Planner, Perceptive Software/Lexmark, Mulberry South, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, RubinBrown LLP, Worcester Investments, Forte, Humana, Ceva Animal Health, Bank of Blue Valley, Veracity Consulting, Henderson Engineers, BNIM, Wireless Lifestyle, ECCO Select, EFL Associates/CBIZ Inc., Two West Advisors, Spring Venture Group, Balance Innovations, Bank of Prairie Village, Missouri Bank, Mainstreet Credit Union, Sunlighten, PGAV Architects, The Miller Group, JE Dunn Construction Company, One Celebrated, Kimberly A. Jones, Attorney, Tyson Foods, Inc., BNSF Railway, Delta Dental of Kansas, CI Squared, First Internet Bank, Cerner, Two West, Inc. Marketing & Communications, Healthcare Services Group, Inc., McCormick & Company, Inc., W. P. Carey Inc., Harper Strategy.
INSTITUTE FOR THE SOCIAL SECTOR
Presented by Kansas City-based Two West, the 2016 Institute for the Social Sector was built on the principle that the social sector is a powerful catalyst for economic and community success. The Institute offered opportunities for philanthropic, academic, nonprofit, government, civic and health care institutions to join together to learn from each other and inspire leadership for positive change. Many thanks to the leadership of Dr. Pat Long, Mary Larson Diaz, and Jackie Kindred in launching the Institute initiative and contributing significantly to its success.
DIARY OF A GOOD GIRL
Diary of a Good Girl was the name of a research-based lifestyle media platform, administered by Mulberry South, LLC, designed to test content and activities related to celebrating good in a household setting. The website operated from 2011 - 2014 as part of a research study to collect data about consumer trends in philanthropy and social impact. Bolstered by the 2012 publication of a self-improvement book, Cereal for Dinner, Cake for Dessert, Diary of a Good Girl tested strategies to create consumer loyalty through authentic social impact engagement. Allie Flaspohler, research specialist, and Susan Monslow, training specialist, deserves a special shout out for her dedication and commitment during the early and admittedly messy days of the consumer research.
EAT CAKE DO GOOD
Eat Cake Do Good was a 2012 market research campaign designed to test the connection between "celebrating good" and achieving success, both at home and in the workplace. The study connected the dots between traditional notions of philanthropy and principles of positive psychology. The Eat Cake Do Good campaign included a series of employer-sponsored workshops for employees to learn the basics of philanthropy, charitable giving, social impact lifestyle, corporate citizenship and community engagement as pillars of personal and professional growth. The campaign featured whimsical cakes--both in print and in edible form--as a metaphor for celebrating philanthropy in the ways that mean the most to the people doing the good. The research indicated that making a positive difference in the lives of others is one of the best ways to make a positive difference in your own life, too. (Note: We still love cake.)
LIVE WITH RINK AND LAURA
From 2011 to 2015, the Live with Rink and Laura radio show aired every Tuesday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. on 1660 AM, KMBZ’s Business Channel in Kansas City. The show featured co-hosts Ryan Rink and Laura Wells McKnight, together with live guests who shared their personal experiences with the companies they lead, including celebrating achievements, telling the stories behind how they got there and forecasting goals for the future. Each show’s guest was unique, but all of the guests shared a common talent for leading the most innovative and successful companies in the Kansas City region, building strong businesses, and doing good in their companies and in the community. You can still listen to the shows at livewithrinkandlaura.com.
CENTER FOR MINDFUL DEVELOPMENT, PLLC
Our research for Do Good, Feel Better was substantially aided by Dr. Caroline Hexdall, a licensed psychologist in North Carolina. Dr. Hexdall is the founder of the Center for Mindful Development, PLLC, at mindfuldevelopment.com. The Center is dedicated to providing psychological services and mindfulness education to all children, adolescents and families. Dr. Hexdall is also pursuing research at the unexplored intersection between the disciplines of positive psychology and philanthropy. Her current areas of study focus on how the combined dynamic of psychology and philanthropy plays out in families to promote healthy relationships. Dr. Hexdall is also involved in building innovative, research-based tools to celebrate philanthropy in the workplace to build a positive employee culture, which ultimately positively impacts families. Dr. Hexdall is an avid photographer. “For me,” says Dr. Hexdall, “photography is a visual expression of mindfulness. Taking a photograph means you see the gift of the moment before you, just as it is, without changing it. Photography is a way of honoring each moment for its joyful simplicity. When you stop to recognize the gifts in front of you, you really do see they are abundant.”
Numerous books have been written with advice for donors on how to be high-impact social entrepreneurs and, therefore, more effective philanthropists. We found the following to be particularly helpful in our research:
How to Change the World, Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas, David Bornstein, Oxford University Press (2004)
Do More Than Give: The Six Practices of Donors Who Change the World, Leslie Crutchfield, John Kania, Mark Kramer (2011)
Giving 2.0: Transform Your Giving and Our World, Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen’s (2011)
Money Well Spent: A Strategic Plan for Smart Philanthropy, Paul Brest, Hal Harvey (2008)
Give Smart: Philanthropy that Gets Results, Thomas J. Tierney, Joel L. Fleishman (2011)
The Art of Giving: Where the Soul Meets a Business Plan, Charles Bronfman, Jeffrey Solomon (2010)
Reinventing Philanthropy: A Framework for More Effective Giving, Eric Friedman (2013)
Inspired Philanthropy: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Giving Plan and Leaving a Legacy, Tracy Gary, Kim Klein, Suze Orman (2008)
- The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University
- Giving USA 2015
- The Foundation Center
- Center on Wealth and Philanthropy
- The 2010 Bank of America Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy conducted by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University
- The 2014 Bank of America Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy conducted by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University
- The Chronicle of Philanthropy
- Congressional Research Service
- The Urban Institute, National Center for Charitable Statistics
- Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Independent Sector
- The Urban Institute
- The Corporation for National and Community Service
- National Philanthropic Trust - Donor Advised Fund Market Report 2014
- The Urban Institute, National Center for Charitable Statistics, US Non Profit Sector
- Internal Revenue Service - Statistics of Income Tax Statistics: Split-Interest Tax Statistics
- The Charitable Giving Report, derived from The Blackbaud Index
Finally, this book draws heavily from other scholars’ research, including the sources cited below. The author is grateful for the extensive written works, conversations and practical application of the many people involved in providing the inspiration for this book.
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