Best Books on Philanthropy

I like being asked my opinion and I like books about philanthropy, so my day was well and truly made when the marvellous Martin Brooks of New Philanthropy Capital asked me to recommend some good books about philanthropy.

I like being asked this question so much that I actually have an online reading list which contains more information than even the pointiest headed of philanthropy wonks could possibly want. So here’s the diluted version of my top 3 essential reads about philanthropy, in ascending order:

3. Peter Frumkin (2006) ‘Strategic Giving: the art and science of philanthropy’. Frumkin sets out the functions of philanthropy and how to go about doing it well. Full review here (though you need to scroll down to the 5th book).

2. Robert Payton & Michael Moody (2008) ‘Understanding Philanthropy: It’s meaning and mission’. This book makes a strong argument that philanthropy is an important and interesting subject that deserves greater attention. Full review here

1. Matthew Bishop & Michael Green (2008) ‘Philanthropcapitalism‘. Despite the misleading title, this book is about so much more than an argument for a certain type of modern philanthropy that the authors have labelled ‘philanthrocapitalism’, it is an excellent review of the whole landscape. If you only read one book, this is the one to go for. Full review here and more on their own website

I reckon anyone reading these 3 books will gain a good understanding of the history and contemporary nature of philanthropy around the world, though if you want to dig deeper beyond UK/US experiences, I’d also suggest Warren Ilchman’s edited volume on ‘Philanthropy in the World’s Traditions’ (1998).

If you decide to take up these suggestions I’d love to know what you think of them, and if you disagree with my picks then do please suggest some alternatives

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