ForeWord Reviews

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Giving with Confidence

A Guide to Savvy Philanthropy

Foreword Review — Winter 2013

The key to this book’s importance lies in the title words “confidence” and “savvy.” Surely, one might think, anyone can give money away. But how can the prospective philanthropist find the most useful and worthy recipients, and have confidence that his or her gifts are being used in a wise and effective manner?

Wilbur, former CEO of the Packard Foundation and other charitable and nonprofit organizations, and Setterberg, author of Grassroots Philanthropy and Grantmaking Basics, provide sound guidance. Each chapter focuses on one of seven principles for wise and effective philanthropy. Some of these are intuitive and commonsensical. Chapter one recommends “using your connections” to identify underfunded needs in one’s own community; chapter two suggests “sending your money where you can’t go” to help worthy causes outside of your community. Where the suggested principles seem counterintuitive, as in the injunctions to “dare to be dull” by donating to general operating support of organizations rather than to specific projects, or to “take risks” by supporting small, daring ventures with no guarantee of success, the authors provide cogent explanations and examples in support of their arguments.

In addition to practical advice about how to identify and evaluate potential recipients, Giving with Confidence also offers plentiful examples, many drawn from the authors’ experiences, of how philanthropy can change lives and communities for the better. The book’s greatest limitation is in its target audience: Giving with Confidence is intended for people who give $5,000 or more to charitable causes annually, and many of the authors’ recommendations, such as informational visits with foundation officials, are geared to that scale of generosity rather than to people who can afford only small and occasional charitable donations. Still, as the saying goes, that’s where the money is, and those who are so fortunate are in the best position to benefit the world around them through wise and well-placed philanthropy. Giving with Confidence will be useful to such donors who wish to help others through philanthropy. It will also be of interest to anyone who wishes to understand the fundraising and functional needs of charitable and nonprofit organizations.

Bradley A. Scott