July 23, 2018
From the President

Summer 2018: A Reading List for Foundations

By Hilary Pearson

As the summer hits its peak, you may find yourself with a little more time to catch up on issues, debates and new thinking about philanthropy.  Here are some suggestions for summer reading.

  • The “give while you live” versus perpetuity debate

A new entry in the ongoing debate about the perpetual foundation model is Joel Fleishman’s book Putting Wealth to Work: Philanthropy for Today or Investing for Tomorrow? Fleishman takes on the Giving While Living model favoured by some of the more recent US billionaire philanthropists.  A thorough discussion of the perpetuity vs “give while you live” debate is provided by Benjamin Soskis in his February review of Fleishman’s book published on HistPhil. To quote Soskis: “Behind this debate is a more fundamental one concerning philanthropy’s temporal dimension and the relationships between grant-making, social change, and time. Fleishman is skeptical of quick-fixes; he believes that most social problems worth addressing cannot be solved in a single lifetime and so are not amenable to the “Giving While Living” mandate, which he assumes does not merely require giving large sums inter vivos but in achieving definitive victories over those problems before death as well.”

  • Funding Social Change in a Time of Uncertainty

A report from Open Impact, “The New Normal: Capacity Building During a Time of Disruption,” quotes from 21 sector leaders and funders who were asked for their strategies in an age of disruption. With backing from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the report authors went in with the hypothesis that to achieve change, social sector leaders and their funders need to play a new and more complicated game—one that the report describes as 3-D chess. The sector needs to be better at scaling organizations and building capacity, but also nimble and responsive in an era of strong social movements. Open Impact’s specific suggestions for funders include more unrestricted support and backing for capacity building. Grantmakers should take a cue from business investors and invest in whole organizations while building in a budget for risk. For a summary and discussion of the report see this blog from Inside Philanthropy.

  • Donors: 5 Things Nonprofits Want You To Know

The Center for Effective Philanthropy has a new resource out that is intended to address the widespread problem of lack of communication and true conversation between funders and non-profit organizations.  The inherent power imbalance is a barrier to effective talk. This resource tries to help funders hear through the silences and understand what would be more helpful in their interactions.

  • Browsing the Philanthropy Blogs:

If you want to spend an afternoon catching up on your philanthropy blogs, check out the following PFC favourites:

  1. Inside Philanthropy,
  2. Philanthropy 2173,
  3. Center for Effective Philanthropy,
  4. New Philanthropy Capital,
  5. HistPhil, and of course
  6. PFC’s own with posts from PFC and guests that you may have missed.

Dont miss the always bitingly funny Vu Le and his comments on the funder-nonprofit relations at NonProfitAFAnd finally check out The Philanthropist, Canada’s own philanthropy journal,  which is running a series on European philanthropy and one on the role of networks in the social sector.

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  • Are Foundations Forever?
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