My Philanthropy Reading List
A few weeks ago, a friend at a foundation in Michigan asked me to put together a list of books and/or other resources that would be helpful to him in his work in philanthropy. I had never put a list together before and as I thought about what I would recommend to him I realized philanthropy is about so much more than the simple act of giving away money. It involves understanding and working with individuals and organizations. It relies on history, psychology, theology, the arts, business and economics. So...here is what I sent him.
Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry. I am part of a community to which I am called and not merely a detached benefactor.
The Social Life of Information by John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid taught me how information works and moves in real life. What could be more important in our work than understanding that?
King Lear is the best text I know on estate planning and family dynamics.
How To Change The World by David Bornstein helped me understand how long it takes to make social change real.
The Essence of Strategic Giving by Peter Frumkin is pretty much self-explanatory.
Inside American Philanthropy by Waldemar Nielsen. The subtitle says it all: The Dramas of Donorship.
The Road to Hell by Michael Maren is still the best book I’ve read on “the ravaging effects of foreign aid and international charity.”
Focus by Al Ries is the one book I hand out to both donors and non-profits more than any other.
The Seven Faces of Philanthropy by Russ Alan Prince and Karen Maru File describes the basic motivations for giving.
The Next Christendom by Philip Jenkins was the first book that clearly described the transition of the geography of the global church
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell helped me understand my particular role in philanthropy.
Self-Renewal by John Gardner is about far more than self-renewal. It is about the renewal of the institutions of society.
The Fall by Albert Camus taught me the difference between judging and discerning.
Organizing Genius by Warren Bennis was so helpful in learning to work with entrepreneurs and teams.
Giving: Western Ideas of Philanthropy by J.B. Schneewind. It may not be in print but the one chapter “Contexts of Charity in the Middle Ages” is worth searching for the book. It traces the development of our treatment of poverty from the early church until today.
The book of Ecclesiastes should be read and re-read as long as you are in this work.
|Howard Freeman||August 16, 2012, 7:39 pm|
|Great list. Philip Jenkins's book above was a game changer for me. Also, may I add a book that has influenced many in the Christian tradition, though the writer -- an American and professor at Kenyon and Harvard -- is a Buddhist: "The Gift" by Lewis Hyde. It has been influential in circles as far fetched as the Burning Man event and Redeemer Church's reading list. Worth a read. Or two.
Also, Miroslav Volf's "Free of Charge."