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Money Well Spent: A Strategic Plan for Smart Philanthropy Hardcover – November 1, 2008
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“An invaluable resource that distills the essence of strategic philanthropy for those seeking to achieve a greater social impact.”--Bill Gates, cochair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
“In philanthropy, as in investing, you need a solid strategy to understand what works, what fails, and why. Money Well Spent provides the tools philanthropists need to create an effective strategy and achieve success."--George Soros
“Money Well Spent is far and away the best ‘handbook plus’ for those who believe that philanthropic dollars are a sacred trust. No other authors have produced so readable, sensible, and balanced a guide to the practice of strategy in solving real-world problems, informed by solid theory and illuminated by easy-to-understand examples."--Joel L. Fleishman, author, The Foundation: A Great American Secret
Co-chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
“In philanthropy, as in investing, you need a solid strategy to understand what works, what fails, and why. Money Well Spent provides the tools philanthropists need to create an effective strategy and achieve success.”
“Money Well Spent is far and away the best ‘handbook plus’ for those who believe that philanthropic dollars are a sacred trust. No other authors have produced so readable, sensible, and balanced a guide to the practice of strategy in solving real-world problems, informed by solid theory and illuminated by easy-to-understand examples.”
—Joel L. Fleishman
Author, The Foundation: A Great American Secret
Professor of Law and Public Policy Sciences, Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy, Duke University
“This is an ever-so-practical and yet ever-so-thoughtful contribution to our understanding of how philanthropy should work.”
—William G. Bowen
Former President, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Princeton University
“Money Well Spent is critical reading for anyone who wants to ensure that philanthropy is having a real and lasting impact on the most urgent challenges facing our world.”
President, Ford Foundation
“For donors who want to think clearly about how to achieve their charitable objectives, reading this excellent guide to philanthropic strategy will be time well spent.”
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Top Customer Reviews
But I can. So let me use the occasion of this book review to remind us of how interconnected the business of giving is with the fortunes of finance and the vagaries of regulation. I have always contended that philanthropy is a regulated industry. Three forces define the outlines of philanthropy as we know it - markets are the first and regulatory structures around personal taxes and institutional tax exemptions make up the second. The third, a concern for others, is the only one of these forces that flows from within humanity and stands outside of human institutions and systems.
Lets get on with it. The book marks a significant moment in the marketization of philanthropy. It is, in its own words:
"...intended to do for philanthropists what the best books on business strategy do for business entrepreneurs and executives: provide readers with the concepts necessary to design a strategy to achieve their goals - in this case their charitable goals.Read more ›
The primary reason for its usefulness is that it's subject-neutral. You can run a big foundation focusing on brain research or a small nonprofit delivering meals-on-wheels -- or a for-profit business for that matter. Why? Because the authors are looking at an encompassing approach where the focus is on knowing what you are assuming, what you are doing, and how you are doing it. You can keep your passion. You can keep your theories of the universe. What you can't do -- and this book tells you why -- is be ignorant of strategies that will drive you toward clarity, intelligent choices and a greater likelihood that those choices will pan out. And the strategy includes building-in feedback loops, so you can change course in mid-stream. (Full disclosure: I read and commented on an early draft of this book.)
The book is divided into three parts; the first is a framework for doing strategic philanthropy, the second contains tools of the trade, the third talks about how to structure the organization and employ your dollars (or euros or any other currency for that matter). For my money, the first part is the best. For example, early in the book they introduce three central questions that are the basis of the philanthropic choices you make. First, "Does the problem diminish quality of life, or does it threaten life itself? Second, "How long will the harm persist?" Finally, "What is the scale of the problem?Read more ›
I recommend this book to grantmakers interested in an overview of good general practices in grantmaking. Note that the focus is general (grantmaking strategy in the abstract) rather than on specific issues (i.e., what the most promising programs are).
Concise and example-backed arguments are given for principles including:
-The importance of forming a clear theory of change (i.e., laying out where a given program fits in the causal chain necessary to achieve desired outcomes, and what evidence there is that each link in the chain works as hypothesized).
-The case for providing general operating support (Brest and Harvey concede that there are times for restricted funding, but on balance feel that more gifts ought to be unrestricted).
-The importance (and meaning) of rigorous evaluation.
-Why "charity" can be as good a use of funds as "philanthropy."
-The case for quantifying "cost-effectiveness" of different approaches (although I disagree with the authors' emphasis on "social return on investment" as measured specifically in dollars).
-Most importantly, a plea to "consider how failure can contribute to the knowledge base," and publicly publish impact studies even of failed projects. (Good examples of such studies are scattered throughout the book.)
The authors also discuss many topics of more interest to larger funders, which are less salient to me due to my professional focus. I am the co-founder of GiveWell ([...] an independent charity evaluator that aims to help individual donors with their giving decisions.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A very thoughtful book. How to give where the giving continues!! Teaches how to perpetuate your philanthropy and how to analyze charitable organizations.Published 23 months ago by Galen Reeves-darby
The other reviews are so thorough that I won't repeat them. I think I've either read or browsed all the recent books on how to do philanthropy -- this is the one indispensable... Read morePublished on November 11, 2010 by KK
A recommendation by The Economist had me buy this book (available as ebook). It is a moderately dry read. Read morePublished on August 28, 2010 by Book Worm
Brest and Harvey have written a superb review of the many cross currents in philanthropic activities. Read morePublished on June 27, 2010 by Rodney W. Nichols