The COVID-19 pandemic has created an increase in remote work opportunities, and according to one Indiana University researcher, that shift has impacted workplace giving. Una Osili, of the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, says now is the time for companies to rethink what workplace giving looks like. According to Giving USA 2019, workplace giving campaigns generated more than $5 billion, or 25 percent of all corporate philanthropy. During the pandemic, Osili says, many companies adopted virtual workplace campaigns, virtual volunteering opportunities, creative hybrid events, or small-group outdoor experiences. It is important, she says, that companies track the effectiveness of virtual approaches to workplace giving and to identify barriers to their success. While technology has made it easier for companies to give to local and global causes, she says it can also lower employees’ engagement and ability to build trust in the not-for-profits they may support. Osili’s research with her colleagues at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy has found that employees participate and give more when they have confidence in the not-for-profit sector. She says this means there needs to be more philanthropic opportunities for employees beyond monetary donations, such as employer-led service days and partnerships with not-for-profits that allow employees to volunteer their time. As the remote work landscape continues to shift, Osili says we must address how technology platforms can be designed for the growing amount of remote workers of all ages, incomes and skill levels, and how companies can address the issue with engagement. She says it is time that we reimagine workplace giving in light of demographic shifts, calls for racial justice, and COVID-19 health and economic concerns. The pandemic has offered companies and employees an opportunity to refocus, Osili says, and remember that the task ahead includes rebuilding community and inspiring the next generation of leaders.
In other news, IU Bloomington’s Ostrom Workshop has explored how communities around the world govern themselves and their resources for nearly 50 years. Now, that exploration is taking them beyond Earth and into outer space. The Ostrom Workshop and partners at Laval University in Canada are expanding their study of governance in space, thanks to a new grant from the Carnegie Corp. of New York. According to Scott Shackelford, executive director of the Ostrom Workshop and lead researcher on the new grant, current space governance is largely an outdated “Cold War remnant” badly in need of redevelopment. New space treaties have been stalled since the early 1980s, Shackelford says. The commercial sector now leads with new technologies, activities and business models, and these commercial activities are creating ambiguities in space law, pushing boundaries that are straining outdated systems, he says. The research team will rely on a unique dataset assembled by Laval University collaborators of 1,500 international space actors– the countries, institutions, organizations, and companies that own or operate objects in Earth’s orbit – to model different governance scenarios. They also plan to create policy recommendations, such as leveraging regional and issue-specific forums, establishing a nonprofit for the registration of space-based property rights, and reconsidering the role that private space exploration corporations play in outer space. The team is seeking practical solutions to collective action problems associated with governing outer space and space activities, Shackelford says. And if their analyses demonstrate an effective practical approach to space, he says, it could highlight new ways to take on critical international challenges here on Earth.