Generosity Index was misrepresented
THE CATALOGUE for Philanthropy's Generosity Index (GI) was badly and unfairly misrepresented in "Scrooged" (Ideas, Dec. 19).
The article alleged that the GI measures generosity, by reference to a generosity gap; that it is bad science because it ignores many factors determining generosity; its logic is so thoroughly flawed as to make it almost meaningless. Professor Paul Schervish alleges that the GI tells a story that is a quality of soul explanation. "Scrooged" concludes that our own description of the GI as crude but telling is half right. All these assertions are false.
The GI reports IRS data. It neither claims to be, nor is, measuring generosity; attacking it on that subject is like dragging an apple into an orange contest to berate it for not being an orange. It does not use the phrase or concept generosity gap. It is not bad science because it is not science at all; its logic is not flawed because it has none; the flaws attributed to it reflect misunderstandings of both it and the IRS data.
It contains no stories or explanations, certainly not about quality of soul. The GI is only a messenger of IRS data; it is an indicator of generosity no more, no less. Its purpose is not scientific (to understand or describe generosity), but educational (to stimulate public discussion), because that provokes thought and stimulates charitable giving. In this it has succeeded.
Today it is the nation's leading stimulus for media discussions of philanthropic generosity and charitable giving.
President, Catalogue for Philanthropy