The Philanthropy Outlook was developed using well-established econometric methods. The models selected for producing each component of The Philanthropy Outlook are composed of a linear combination of the growth rates (or 1-year differences) of key indicators. The results produced point toward linkages between specific economic variables and philanthropic giving. These linkages can be positive or negative (inverse), as well as direct or indirect. With these results, we cannot say that a particular variable caused philanthropy to rise or fall. However, the results presented in The Philanthropy Outlook point us toward what is likely to happen and why.

The Philanthropy Outlook is meant to be informational. The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and Marts & Lundy make no guarantees about the accuracy of The Philanthropy Outlook. Similar to other types of predictions, it is impossible to know ahead of time all those factors that will affect giving into the future. While The Philanthropy Outlook is based on scientific methodology, there are limits to the use of such methodology to predict future outcomes.