Thursday, September 01, 2011

Back to School Philanthropy Reading

(from Jeff Jarvis, Buzzmachine)

I'm currently reading two books (review copies) that are scheduled for publication this Fall. Both are worth picking up when they come out.

Laura Arrillaga Andreessen, Giving 2.0. This is the first of several books currently out on giving that speaks to the non-millionaires among us. The stories reflect more of the diversity of American giving than have other recent "how tos" on the subject, there is an understanding that technology matters in how we find things to support (and how we support them). The author teaches at Stanford's Graduate School of Business and is well aware of the enormous industry and many policy structures that shape American philanthropy. She is equally persuasive about the roles that her MBA background and her relationship with her mother have had on how she thinks about giving All of us bring a personal passion, experience, or hope to our philanthropy - but these elements are all too often given short shrift in the "managerial literature" about philanthropy and nonprofits. For all our managerial rigor and efforts at best practices, philanthropy in the aggregate remains a collection of individual actions driven by familial, religious, and cultural norms. Arrillaga Andreessen's book does a solid job of presenting both the rational business side of this very human and irrational enterprise. John Wiley & Sons is publishing the book, it will be out in October, 2011.

Olivier Zunz, Philanthropy in America: A History. Olivier Zunz is a Professor of History at The University of Virginia who has taken on the massive task of explaining philanthropy in the U.S. In order to present a coherent narrative his chapters on foundations, fundraising, policy, social movements are tempting teases to each subject. In each section he provides enough information to wet the appetite for more and make the reader easily see the contemporary resonance of the issues he raises. His chapters on the relationship between the institution of income taxes, the price of war, and the creation of "mass philanthropy" will make any reader stop and ask deeper questions about the contemporary relationship between those same structures. It's a great overview and should be read by everyone currently active in nonprofits or foundations who has ever asked, "Wait, why do we do it this way?" Publication date, November 2011 from Princeton University Press.

Another resource is Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists by Valaida Fullwood. This beautiful book - that reminds us of the power of photographs and the truly human element of philanthropy - is one result of many years of giving circle work supported by The Ford Foundation, Knight Foundation, Foundation for the Carolinas and dozens of individual and other institutional funders. This is the kind of book I will go back to time and again. The people profiled are as generous in sharing their stories as they are in sharing the time and treasure. Collectively, the stories remind us of the role that mutual support and community play in philanthropy, the importance of faith traditions, and the pure joy that philanthropy can bring. Like Giving 2.o, Giving Back refocuses our attention onto the hundreds of millions of givers who are the real engines of philanthropy.

I'm also looking forward to reading Jeff Jarvis's Public Parts (hey, Simon & Schuster - I'd love a review copy.) Jarvis has written and spoken quite provocatively about the real meaning of our shifting understandings of public and private. His background in journalism and his insights into how organizations work make me sure his thoughts on public, private, how we decide and how we behave now are going to be quite useful.

1 comment:

Daniel Chavez Moran said...

Great reading list. I've always used texts as a framing device and an idea generator to hone my own efforts, since it's folly to assume we can't learn from history (as in the Zunz work) or new ways of looking at things (the Andreessen book).