Giving back has been a crucial part of the American fabric, and philanthropy supports a vast and diverse nonprofit sector that strengthens our country. But, in recent decades, much of the guidance for donors has been misguided -- seeking to import the frameworks of business to a vastly different terrain. Donors are told to act like “investors” and to treat nonprofits “like business.” This has led to countless unforced philanthropic errors and missed opportunities.
Effective philanthropy requires, instead, a clear-eyed and humble recognition of its uniquely challenging nature and an ability to learn from the successes and failures of the past.
In his book, Giving Done Right: Effective Philanthropy and Making Every Dollar Count, Phil Buchanan draws on his experience advising many of the world’s largest foundations and suggests an approach to giving that yields results. He also argues that the community-based nonprofits that do heroic work in every community deserve greater respect and support, especially in the face of a challenging political context, increased cynicism about philanthropy, and worrisome trends regarding giving.
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