Veteran activists Chuck Collins and Pam Rogers show that charity dollars can make a huge difference if they are used for lasting social change. In Robin Hood Was Right
, Collins and Rogers question the results of decades of traditional philanthropy. They write, "We give to help the poor, but poverty prevails. We contribute to save the environment, but corporate destruction of our land and waters continues. We donate to shelters, but millions remain homeless." The two call for new ways of giving, ones that "close the divide between rich and poor." That means giving to an emerging group of "social change foundations" that tackle the root causes of poverty and other injustices by working to increase affordable housing and raise the minimum wage.
Robin Hood Was Right is a practical guide to donating for change. It features profiles of foundations, a worksheet to figure out how much you can afford to give, a list of resources for the socially responsible investor, and even a section on how to set up a family charitable foundation if you have more than $1 million to donate. The book also includes cartoons and notable quotes about giving, such as this saying from oil baron J. Paul Getty: "Money is like manure: It's only good if it's spread around." This is a wonderful book for people considering donating in order to right social and economic injustice, whether they can give hundreds or millions of dollars a year. --Dan Ring
The authors acknowledge that Americans contributed $109 billion to charity last year, but they question whether "we [are] spending our charitable dollars effectively." They argue that traditional philanthropy focuses on alleviating the symptoms of society's ills, and they challenge us to support causes that look for solutions to social problems. The authors certainly practice what they preach. They all hold executive positions with organizations actively devoted to social change; Collins is an heir to the Oscar Mayer fortune and a member of Responsible Wealth, a Boston-based advocacy group. After contrasting traditional philanthropy with their approach to promoting social change, they examine the personal issues and roadblocks that affect charitable giving, provide practical guidelines for socially responsible investing and "tax-wise" giving, and recommend a personalized giving plan. Each of the 14 chapters profiles a different organization dedicated to a progressive cause, and appendixes list more than 150 such groups, foundations, and other resources. David Rouse