A New Kind of Philanthropy

A couple months ago I came across a remarkable book, Grassroots Philanthropy, by Bill Somerville with Fred Setterberg. Bill makes some remarkable observations on the philanthropic world and challenges today’s foundation world to be more efficient and effective. This week I want to focus on a couple of revelations that I have had as a result of reading this book.

I want to start by giving a brief summary of the book for my foundation readers. The book is written to a foundation employee audience but, outside of this post, I am going to focus on my reflections as a nonprofit professional. Quoted below are the “Seven Immodest Proposals” that Bill makes to the foundation world.

  1. Get out of the office and into the field at least 30 percent of the time.
  2. Pare back the paper to a slim stack.
  3. Speed up your response time.
  4. Empower the executive to make grants without board approval.
  5. Establish a venture fund for riskier grants.
  6. Fund outstanding individuals engaged in important work.
  7. Link large foundations with smaller community foundations to pursue grassroots grantmaking.

If you are in philanthropy in anyway I encourage you to give this book a read. I do not and will not traditionally encourage you to read a book, unless I’ve read it and believe it to be worth your time. If you are interested in getting a copy of the book you can purchase it from the publisher or through amazon.com by following this link: Grassroots Philanthropy.

If you want another person’s opinion on the book feel free to read the review at GiftHub.org or SocialActions.com.


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