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The Will of God and Wealth

center on wealth and philanthropy

The Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College has been awarded grants by the Lilly Endowment, Inc. and the T. B. Murphy Foundation Charitable Trust for research on faith and philanthropy. The grants will fund the project, “The Will of God and Wealth: The Varieties of Religious Discernment and Discerned Philanthropy.”

The goal of the project is to explore how a religiously grounded process of decision-making – discernment – helps individuals conscientiously allocate financial resources to charity – discerned philanthropy. The central premise of the project is that charitable giving and the decision-making process guiding philanthropy, when carried out conscientiously in the light of faith, are spiritual practices.

The major focus of the project is to elaborate a more fully informed understanding of discernment and to explore how discernment can be applied to helping fundraisers and wealth holders develop a more spiritually grounded process of philanthropic decision making. Discussion partners will be regularly engaged individually and at least once as a group to suggest ideas and texts, and to read and criticize the writing that will be produced on this topic.

A second focus will be to implement the religious and spiritual dimensions of the discernment process in order to help wealth holders determine and implement wise financial choices, especially in regard to philanthropy. Our work with fundraisers and donors will initially be with Jesuit colleges, universities, and ministries, as well as with selected religious organizations and charities whose people and purposes are particularly disposed toward learning and using the discernment process. Ignatian discernment revolves around creating an atmosphere of liberty and inspiration in which people are better disposed to “find God in all things” and determine their vocation. Institutions whose spiritual or cultural heritage promotes a principle of inductive individualized decision-making constitute a particularly appropriate starting point for formalizing and implementing the discernment approach.

Related Documents:

"The Inheritance of Wealth and the Commonwealth: The Ideal of Paideia in an Age of Affluence" Paul G. Schervish.
New Directions in Philanthropic Fundraising: Taking Fundraising Seriously. Number 35 (Spring 2002)
Download File (PDF, 1.35mb)


"The Sense and Sensibility of Religion: Retrieving Spiritual Experience as an Authentic Sociological Variable" Paul G. Schervish.
Presented at a joint session of the American Sociological Association and the Association for the Study of Religion, session on "New Theoretical Directions in the Sociology of Religion," New York, NY, Aug. 15-20, 1996.
Download File (PDF, 2.16 mb)