Giving 2.0: Transform Your Giving and Our World, Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, Jossey Bass, 2011.
Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, author of this comprehensive guide to smart charitable giving, is among the elite. She is the founder and chairman emeritus of SV2 (Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund), comes from a family that is well off, and has an MBA, two MAs, and a BA from Stanford. Laura now teaches philanthropy at Stanford and is a leading light among philanthropic circles.
But don't let that stop you from reading her book and letting it guide your more modest philanthropy.
Laura is well positioned to overview the current state of charitable giving and has played many roles within it...from founding a nonprofit to setting up family foundations to volunteering and meeting a wide range of givers, industry insiders, and social ventureneers of all types.
Laura also understands the hearts of charitable people, no matter what their resources, pedigree, age, or position on the economic ladder. We all want the same things...to help, to make a difference, to bequeath a better world to our children.
What I liked especially about Laura's book is that it fully engages with the web 2.0 world. It's hard to remember that this new world of online everything is only about a dozen years old. Yes, we were finding our way around it, in what now seem like unbelievably awkward ways, back in the 90s (remember paying by the minute to access the web through AOL?), but the online world as we now glide around it is relatively new.
As the web has blossomed, so has the charitable world. Now nonprofits almost always have websites, and the number of giving "gateways" has grown to dozens from just a few only recently. It can be confusing for all of us, even as we love the variety and multitude of opportunities to give back.
Laura takes all of that into account, addressing both traditional ways of planning and executing one's charitable giving and also how to do so using the tools of the online world.
Whether you have only a small amount to give to charitable causes, you channel your philanthropic impulses mainly through volunteering, or you're ready to set up a fund through which you can funnel your philanthropy, Laura's book has something for you.
Each chapter takes you deeper into the world of giving, from giving your time through simple engagement, to joining with others via the web to make a difference, to planning your philanthropic journey, to how to create and sustain impact.
Don't read this book in a weekend, like I did. You'll want to use it as a mini-encyclopedia of methods and resources that you can explore over time. It's all here -- from social entrepreneurship, to how to set up your own nonprofit or foundation, to using intermediaries to make sure that your monetary contributions are used wisely.
Laura's book can also be helpful to existing nonprofits. It is useful to know what philanthropists look for in organizations before they help them. And this book is certainly a caution to those who think just starting their own nonprofit is easy or even necessary. Especially useful are the questions, cautions, and tips at the end of each chapter.
Here is an excerpt from one of those lists of questions that I especially focused on:
Warning Signs to Note When Considering Funding a Nonprofit
Think twice about funding an organization if you find that:
- Its executives cannot tell you what success looks like for the organization, and they've done no internal evaluation of their programs.
- The organization does not have full board participation in its giving, and not all board members practice fiduciary oversight.
- The nonprofit pays one or two inappropriately high executive salaries, or employs family members of the founder or executive director.
- The organization has had frequent changes of leadership in recent years.
- The organization has no individual on its team or board with expertise in accounting principles.
- The majority of donors are one-time-only givers (as opposed to individuals or foundations who have been funding the organization for many years).
Traditional nonprofits might want to keep in mind that givers have a trove of options for their charitable giving, from micro-lending through organizations such as Kiva, using reliable intermediaries such as the Acumen Fund, and social impact investing through organizations such as the Global Impact Investing Network. These are just a few of the options that Laura explains throughout her book.
If you already own other guides to charitable giving such as Inspired Philanthropy by Tracy Gary, Peter Singer's The Life You Can Save, or The Art of Giving, by Charles Bronfman and Jeffrey Solomon, you'll want to add Giving 2.0 to your collection. It's an even deeper dive and up-to-date look at the giving options open to anyone, regardless of income.