IBJNews

2013 WOMAN OF INFLUENCE: Dr. Una Osili

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
osili-3-15col.jpg Dr. Una Osili (IBJ Photo/Eric Learned)

When it comes to teaching your kids to be charitable, what’s more important: what you say or what you do?

Obvious, right? We are trained to believe that actions speak louder than words. But when it comes to charitable giving, Dr. Una Osili’s research reveals that what we say is vital. “We tested whether verbal socialization—talking to kids—has a stronger impact compared to role-modeling. And we learned that you have to talk about giving if you want them to be charitable.”

Talking about—and analyzing—philanthropic research is at the center of Osili’s professional life. As director of research at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, she has one of the highest-profile jobs in her field.

The daughter of two professors, Osili grew up in Nigeria and has maintained a global perspective throughout her career. Her dissertation explored how immigrants to the United States saved money and shared with family members in their origin countries. She’s on the board of the African School of Economics, founder and immediate past chairwoman of the organizing committee of the Philippe Wamba Fund for road safety in Africa, and a board member for the African Finance and Economics Association, among other affiliations.

“It’s exciting to be in a place that has the ability to see changes globally,” said Osili, “and how philanthropy can play a very important role.”

Closer to home, she directs Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy, the key publication reporting on the sources and uses of charitable giving in the United States. First published in 1956, it’s the longest-running report on philanthropy in the United States.

“We know that research and knowledge can help inform decision-making for donors, policymakers and not-for-profits,” she said. “Historically, though, there’s not a whole lot of data.” Where philanthropy once consisted of a lot of wishful thinking, metrics now make it easier to see if desired ends are met.

“There is a strong interest in creatively leveraging resources,” she said. “What role can philanthropy play in providing risk capital and testing ideas before they are funded by the state or federal government?

“You see it in New York with Mayor Bloomberg using philanthropy as a way to test models. You see it at IU with cancer research—the early stages tend to be funded by private dollars until there is enough hard evidence for [federal funding]. We’re seeing more collaboration across government, private and philanthropic sectors to achieve results.”

She proudly serves on the board of St. Richard’s Episcopal School in part because of its strong emphasis on service and giving back. “It embodies a lot of what we hope for educational opportunities here in Indianapolis.”

“You have to realize how much people invested in you,” Osili said. “We want to emphasize that to our kids—that sense of reaching back and then paying it forward. Making sure you leave behind a more peaceful, more just place.”•

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. The east side does have potential...and I have always thought Washington Scare should become an outlet mall. Anyone remember how popular Eastgate was? Well, Indy has no outlet malls, we have to go to Edinburgh for the deep discounts and I don't understand why. Jim is right. We need a few good eastsiders interested in actually making some noise and trying to change the commerce, culture and stereotypes of the East side. Irvington is very progressive and making great strides, why can't the far east side ride on their coat tails to make some changes?

  2. Boston.com has an article from 2010 where they talk about how Interactions moved to Massachusetts in the year prior. http://www.boston.com/business/technology/innoeco/2010/07/interactions_banks_63_million.html The article includes a link back to that Inside Indiana Business press release I linked to earlier, snarkily noting, "Guess this 2006 plan to create 200-plus new jobs in Indiana didn't exactly work out."

  3. I live on the east side and I have read all your comments. a local paper just did an article on Washington square mall with just as many comments and concerns. I am not sure if they are still around, but there was an east side coalition with good intentions to do good things on the east side. And there is a facebook post that called my eastside indy with many old members of the eastside who voice concerns about the east side of the city. We need to come together and not just complain and moan, but come up with actual concrete solutions, because what Dal said is very very true- the eastside could be a goldmine in the right hands. But if anyone is going damn, and change things, it is us eastside residents

  4. Please go back re-read your economics text book and the fine print on the February 2014 CBO report. A minimum wage increase has never resulted in a net job loss...

  5. The GOP at the Statehouse is more interested in PR to keep their majority, than using it to get anything good actually done. The State continues its downward spiral.

ADVERTISEMENT