Our State of Generosity - Powered by the Johnson Center for Philanthropy Logo

Leader Profile:

Dwight Burlingame

Dwight Burlingame, professor of philanthropic studies and Glenn Family Chair at the Lilly School of Philanthropy at Indiana University, is a leading thinker, author, and reflective practitioner in organizing the field of philanthropy scholarship worldwide. Throughout the development of Michigan’s philanthropic network, and particularly with the start of the Michigan Community Foundations’ Youth Project, Burlingame was a trusted friend and advisor to the Michigan projects related to education in philanthropy. He possesses an international perspective on the field and has worked closely with the leaders of Michigan’s philanthropic community. He has been diligent in his work, thoughtful about its development, and continues to bring the perspective of a participant-observer to the history of Michigan’s infrastructure.

Leadership Highlights


Dwight Burlingame began a postsecondary education at Minnesota State University Moorhead, where he studied political science and business, and pursued work as a teacher. Burlingame then attended the University of Illinois and completed a Master of Science in library science. He sought a doctoral degree in business at the University of Iowa, but after only six months, was drafted into the army during the Vietnam War. Burlingame spent two years in the military before returning to work as a faculty member at St. Cloud State University. He held that position for four years before earning a doctorate in library science from Florida State University. Burlingame also completed a post-master’s study program in higher education at the University of Minnesota.

Philanthropic Biography

Burlingame was dean of libraries at the University of Evansville, and after four years, became dean of libraries and learning resources at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. He identified this time as one of his first forays into the field of philanthropy. As the dean, Burlingame helped raise funds for the university library. After the vice president of university relations stepped down, Burlingame was asked to serve in that capacity. He also served as president of the Bowling Green State University Foundation for six years. In this role, Burlingame headed the university’s first capital campaign where he met donors and received a first-hand education in philanthropy.

It was from that position that Robert Payton recruited Burlingame as director of academic programs and research for the newly formed Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) (called the Center on Philanthropy at the time of its formation). In 2013, Burlingame was named the Glenn Family Chair, and continues to be actively involved with the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Research Council, the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action, and the International Society for Third-Sector Research.

Contributions to the Field

Burlingame’s nationwide influence is due to his research and expertise on the necessity of fundraising in particular — as author or co-author of ten books, more than 55 articles, and over 100 book reviews. A few notable examples are: Taking Fundraising Seriously: Advancing the Profession and Practice of Raising Money (1991); The Responsibilities of Wealth (1992); editor of Philanthropy in America: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia (3 volume set) (2004); and Corporate Philanthropy at the Crossroads with Dennis Young (1994). Burlingame served a six-year term as the editor of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly and 20+ years as co-editor of the IU Press book series on philanthropy and nonprofit studies.

Outside of writing, Burlingame was prominent in developing philanthropy education and organized the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs at the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Burlingame was brought on soon after the creation of the school and continues to teach prospective nonprofit leaders there.

Burlingame served as one of the primary content advisors to the curriculum development of the K-12 philanthropy project of the Council of Michigan Foundations titled, Learning to Give. During its initial phase, he also provided the professional development required for K-12 classroom teachers to implement the Learning to Give curriculum. As a part of Burlingame’s voluntary contribution, he engaged in research and discussion with a small group of content advisors to define the learning outcomes related to philanthropy that defines the Learning to Give project and served on the board of trustees as the first non-Michigan representative. While developing Learning to Give, Burlingame also provided leadership and support to the implementation of a similar K-12 project in Indiana called Youth in Philanthropy Indiana (YiPI).

“Michigan has been an exemplar in the infrastructure organization leadership that’s been evident … that’s number one. And two … the gift of major foundation assets which have been instrumental in engaging communities across the state. So the community foundation movement in a large way, in the last 30 years was so advanced by your work and [the Lilly Endowment], of course, picked up on that and ran with it in Indiana.”

As an author and an educator, Burlingame was a significant advocate, board member, volunteer, speaker, and consultant on topics including philanthropy, nonprofit organizations, development, corporate citizenship, and libraries. In 2013, Burlingame’s tireless contributions to the field were recognized by the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, when he received the Henry A. Rosso Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Ethical Fund Raising, and selected as the Glenn Family Chair in Philanthropy.


Burlingame was interviewed regarding his insights and experiences in working with Michigan’s philanthropic community and the Our State of Generosity (OSoG) partners. The following quote relates to the organizing themes of the OSoG project.

Servant Leadership in Michigan Philanthropy

“With the Indiana Humanities Council … we had an actor in the role of the director who clearly was not in the same mode of collaboration. Consequently, it was not nearly as successful, I think, as it could have been. Otherwise, I think we really had great success which was built on this attitude that we had the people who were in the right jobs at the right time. Which I think a lesson, for me at least, a lesson that comes out of that is the importance of having a mindset in terms of what’s good for the field as a whole before one looks selfishly at ‘how am I going to survive in the organization that I’m in’ kind of approach.”

This profile was last updated: 02/22/2020