Philanthropy Revolution: A book review by Bob Morris

Philanthropy Revolution: How to inspire donors, build relationships, and make a difference
Lisa Greer & Larissa Kostoff
HarperCollins (September 2020)

How and why minor adjustments cannot accommodate major changes in the world of philanthropy

In this volume, written in collaboration with Larissa Kostoff, Lisa Greer shares her thoughts about the do and don’ts of establishing solid relationships between and among funding sources and non-profits. She is an entrepreneur, investor, and philanthropist. Also, she possesses impressive business acumen as well as people skills. She seems to take a no-nonsense approach to solving problems.

These are among the passages of greatest interest and value to me, also shared to suggest the scope of this book’s coverage in Chapters 1-6:

o Off Script! Off Script! (Pages 19-22)
o Now That’s a Meeting (43-46)
o “It’s Wiser to Find Out than Suppose” (57-60)
o The Truth About Tax-Advantaged Giving (64-68)
o Finally, a Generation That Won’t Stay in Its Lane (68-72)

o So, What Are We? (86-88)
o Another Unwritten Cide: Never Speak Truth to Power  (94-95)
o Consider Okaying the Role of the Donor (100-102)
o The Five-Minute Google Search (108-109)
o The Carpet-Bombing Approach to Donor Solicitation (121-123)

o Pitching Emerging Donors (132-133)
o Reconsidering Multi-Year Gifts (136-137)
o When There Are Bills to Pay (138-140)
o How Fundraisers Can Tap into Donor Advised Funds (144-146)
o Rich People Are Crazy (150-153)

o Consulting (174-178)
o How Not to Measure a Charity (183-187)
o How Not to Ask Charities to Measure Themselves (188-189)
o Why Good Governance Matters to Giving (192-195)
o Board Policy, Protocol and Principle (205-209)

My own background includes  serving as CEO of the precollegiate division of the National Foundation for the Humanities and then director of planning and development of a major university.  Most of my time and energy were devoted to raising funds from private as well as corporate foundations as well as wealthy individuals. I can personally attest to the wisdom of Greer’s counsel but duly acknowledge that much of her information and many of her insights are irrelevant to world of philanthropy in which I persevered. Twenty years later, that information and counsel are compellingly relevant.

These are two of the reasons: nonprofits today (especially the larger ones) are led and managed according to sound business principles; also, corporations today (especially the larger ones) are much more interested in — indeed, becoming actively engaged with –“good citizen” issues and projects than ever before.

A “philanthropy revolution” preceded COVID-19 and will no doubt continue for several years during and following that pandemic. The challenge for nonprofits — whatever their size and nature may be — is to create stakeholder  “evangelists” (e.g. donors, volunteers, third-party referral sources) who share a commitment to a compelling vision of high-impact social purpose. How to do that?

Read Lisa Greer’s book.

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