Book Club: The Givers: Wealth, Power and Philanthropy in a New Gilded Age

Alicia Philipp Book Club, Philanthropic Resources 0 Comments

By Alicia Philipp, president and CEO

Forty-one years ago when I came to the Community Foundation, no one used the word philanthropy. Fast-forward and it’s used commonly in the ubiquitous lists of big givers in major publications, and the word “philanthropist” is now consistently used to describe people.

But what do we know about these philanthropists, their beliefs and goals for their grantmaking? David Callahan in The Givers, argues we don’t know very much and yet “philanthropy is becoming a much stronger power center and, in some areas, is set to surpass government in its ability to shape society’s agenda.”

Through extensive interviews, Callahan shares who the new givers are and how they are converting philanthropy into influence. He argues that “the mental distance between the givers and tens of millions of Americans who feel shut out of today’s progress could hardly be greater.”

While his final chapter offers his thoughts for reforms for philanthropy, my insight naturally turned to the role of community foundations. A community foundation, so deeply and closely near people in place, can close that distance between philanthropists and those who have felt shut out. Community foundations can change the paradigm. I truly believe those community foundation donors who are part of Spark Opportunity see this happening.

Learn more about The Givers here.