Updated: July 2013
Here are some interesting resources that the Directors of GrantCraft, Rosien Herweijer and Jen Bokoff, and their colleague, Lisa Philp, are currently tapped into. Enjoy!
I'm reading interesting texts relevant to philanthropy:
- Philanthropy and the Philanthropy Sector: an Introduction by Theo N.M. Schuyt, June 2013. This introduction to philanthropy from a European perspective was recently published by Professor Theo Schuyt. The role philanthropist, and other non-state and non-market actors have played in the European socio-cultural ecosystem varies in time and geographically. Sociologist Schuyt describes and reviews the landscape as well as the academic theory that analyzes ‘modern' philanthropy and how it is changing.
- Who Counts – The Participatory Statistics edited by Jereymy Holland with an afterword by Robert Chambers, 2013. The power of evidence has many facets. With big data being the "it-thing" this book is about on who collects, validates and owns them and what the role of programme beneficiaries and grassroots communities can be in this process. You can also take 20+ minutes watch the video-stream of the seminar in which some of the contributors talk about their cases.
- Employment and social entrepreneurship are hot topics in Europe and the European philanthropy scene. From my library I am re-reading A Future for the Excluded, edited by Raff Carmen and Miguel Sobrado, 2000 on the work of Clodomiro Santos de Moraes, a Brazilian who worked in Central America setting-up large scale capacitation programs that provided communities with assets stimulating both collective and individual entrepreneurship. A more recent endeavor integrates aspects of de Moraes'methodology: Kwanda in South Africa also known as Reality Television for Community Development.
And then I'm engaged in some GrantCraft-specific reading:
- For my next project, I am reading up on financial tools that offer alternatives to the standard funding-for-operational-project-cost through grants or otherwise that are standard for many foundations. The GrantCraft guide on Program Related Investment is my first reference. Already in 2006 EFC did this initial mapping of their members' use of alternative financial tools. A more recent publication, 360-Degrees for Mission, by David Inbert and Ivo Knoepfel, presents cases of leading European foundations who are involved in what is called mission related investing.
- Still on my desk: this recent piece on Social Impact Bonds in Development, by a Working Group co-chaired by Owen Barder of the Centre for Global Development.
- Finally, I am bouncing back from my submersion in exits and endings as part of writing the GrantCraft guide Foundations Moving On. One thing that confused me in this project was the role of emotions in the process: are managers overly emotional? Or do donors lack empathy? Reading David Kahneman's Thinking Fast Thinking Slow, I found a helpful idea in that a lot of philanthropy involves an overdose of system-one-thinking, which leads to entries that should not have happened and exits that are not well-managed. To say it differently: in philanthropy gut feelings are useful but not to be relied on solely.
I don't often like to carry books around, but these have been worth it:
- The Art of Doing Good, by Charles Bronfman & Jeffrey Solomon, which has great case studies in getting "do-gooder" projects off the ground. They also intentionally define do-gooder without a patronizing stigma, which becomes a neat tool.
- Revealing Indian Philanthropy, Edited by Mathiu Cantegreil, Dweep Chanana, and Ruth Kattumuri. I am trying to immerse myself in the giving practices of other communities, and enjoy reading focused collections of case studies and observations like this.
- The Life and Death of Great American Cities, by Jane Jacobs, which is especially fun to read in light of NYC's recent street culture shift post-Citibike implementation.
Especially on long walks in the summer, I love listening to podcasts:
- I went on a This American Life kick because they just released their 500th episode. Two of note are "Hot in My Backyard," the recent episode on climate change, and older episode "Neighborhood Watch," which was a nice reminder of the community formed by neighbors, intentional or not.
- Planet Money did a great episode about how people get the money they need when they need it called "When People Make Their Own Banks."
And of course, there are articles and papers and people online that I tune into:
- Gather: The Art and Science of Effective Convening, The Rockefeller Foundation's guide to getting people together for productive, worthwhile meetings over shared goals. Big highlight for me: the frank discussion about deciding if a convening is even right for a funder's work. (And, here's why I'm extra excited by that point!)
- GEO's Strategic Co-Funding by Cynthia Gair, which shares great examples of co-funded projects and the rationale for joining forces or not.
- "Gaming the System," by Joselin Linder, an alumna of my alma mater. This article on using gamification to achieve desired outcomes was fascinating, and arguably quite applicable to the same social problems that philanthropy tries to solve.
- "Social Networking in the 1600s," by Tom Standage, on how coffeeshops were the technology of the 1600s that Twitter and Facebook are now. Nice opinion piece.
Over the past month, my professional reading has centered on blogs, social media, and conferences I attended (or wished I had been able to attend). For example, here are two terrific posts I've read on colleague blogs:
- "What the Next Generation of Grantmakers Wants To Accomplish," Albert Ruesga on the White Courtesy Telephone blog
- "4 Ways Funders Can Better Communicate What They Learn," Elizabeth R. Miller on the Knight Foundation blog
I've also been reading new reports from colleague organizations, including two on evaluation:
- The European Foundation Centre's Ceci n'est pas un evaluation guide!
- GEO's Building Community Capacity for Participation in Evaluation
For quick recaps on conferences, I like Storify round-ups of live tweets. Two recent examples from meetings I attended in Detroit and New York include:
I'm always on the look-out for insight from interviews with artists, teachers, and people who work in different fields. Recent examples include these posts on Culturebot and Edutopia:
- "Talking to David Brick About Headlong Dance Theater's ‘Avalanche' at Danspace Project"
- "The Difference Between Learners and Students" on project-based learning
I also like to mix up my reading with different formats. I seek out data visualizations that offer new insight and started listening to audiobooks through a subscription to Audible linked to my phone.
- This visualization of Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" allows non-musicians to better understand what they are hearing
- The Power Broker, Robert Caro's Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece on Robert Moses, has been on my to-read list for 20 years. It's an enormous book and impractical to carry around. I made a mental note a few years ago to buy and read the Kindle version, but I kept forgetting to do so. I recently bought the audiobook version—10 installments of about seven hours each—and just devoured it. It's a must-read or must-listen for anyone interested in New York, cities, urban development, politics, and/or power.
click to see full list: