It's good to see more people thinking seriously about how to make philanthropy more effective. The latest addition to the literature is Eric Friedman's Reinventing Philanthropy: A framework for more effective giving (Potomac, Washington DC, 2013). It is, as Friedman says in the introduction, "by a donor, about donors, and for donors who want to look critically at what they can do to improve their philanthropy." As a donor who knows the field of philanthropy well, and has had many conversations with others in this field, Friedman is well-placed to speak of the "code of silence that suffocates constructive discourse." His point is that donors do not criticize other donors. So if someone gives to an already well-endowed art museum, that is considered to be laudable, even though the donation could have done far more good if it had gone to an effective charity helping people in extreme poverty.
Friedman, to his credit, is willing to break the code, and to suggest some sensible strategies for making giving more effective. Those who have already done a lot of thinking about these issues may well have already reached the conclusions that he sets out in the book, but putting this book into the hands of donors who are not as reflective as they should be could do a lot of good.
An excerpt from the book is available on the book's website at at http://reinventingphilanthropy.com/excerpt/
For my own views on some of the issues Friedman discusses, see http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/11/opinion/sunday/good-charity-bad-charity.html?pagewanted=all
The Life You Can Save is a movement of people fighting extreme poverty. We hold that an ethical life involves using some of our wealth and resources to save and improve the lives of those less fortunate than us.
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