Why Philanthropy Matters

Why Philanthropy Matters by Zoltan J. Acs

Cover of “Why Philanthropy Matters”

Posted by Eileen Ellsworth

This is the third post reviewing the book “Why Philanthropy Matters:  How the Wealthy Give, and What It Means for Our Economic Well-Being” by Zoltan J. Acs (Princeton University Press 2013)

In “Why Philanthropy Matters”, Zolton Acs explains how American style capitalism has developed, evolved, and fueled philanthropy. He describes the history and evolution of American capitalism, from the masters of commerce in colonial America, to the industrial revolution of the late 19th century, to the “managerial economy” of the early and mid-20th century, to the “entrepreneurial economy” of today. In doing so, Acs answers the question “Why did the information revolution happen in the US?” The short answer is this:
Continue reading

Why Philanthropy Matters

Why Philanthropy Matters by Zoltan J. Acs

Cover of “Why Philanthropy Matters”

Posted by Eileen Ellsworth

This is the second post reviewing the book “Why Philanthropy Matters:  How the Wealthy Give, and What It Means for Our Economic Well-Being” by Zoltan J. Acs (Princeton University Press 2013)

A core idea from “Why Philanthropy Matters” is that the classic arc of American capitalism starts with opportunity. Only then does it move to entrepreneurship and innovation, wealth creation, and ultimately philanthropy. This cycle of American-style capitalism has endured for centuries. Acs is fascinated with the question of why does capitalism flourish here? He believes it is because American policies, laws, and societal structures have not only made it possible but encouraged it.  Indeed, our institutions are fundamentally different from the rest of the world in this regard.

For example, an idle aristocracy never existed here as it did in Britain. In the 1700’s and 1800’s, the Puritans and Quakers innovated, worked hard, and accumulated wealth, a phenomenon which broke down the old world class structures. Wealth could now accrue to the “upwardly mobile” class through industry, not just inheritance. This “Bloodless Revolution” destroyed the existing monopoly on wealth and threw open the doors to opportunity for the many. And the emerging societal perceptions of wealth and opportunity shape our thinking to this day.
Continue reading

Why Philanthropy Matters

Why Philanthropy Matters by Zoltan J. Acs

Cover of “Why Philanthropy Matters”

Posted by Eileen Ellsworth

This is the first post reviewing the book “Why Philanthropy Matters:  How the Wealthy Give, and What It Means for Our Economic Well-Being” by Zoltan J. Acs (Princeton University Press 2013)

Zolton J. Acs makes a persuasive and scholarly case that American philanthropy is essential to American-style capitalism because it continuously revitalizes our economy and invests in the middle class.

Acs has spent a considerable portion of his professional career studying entrepreneurship in the US and Europe and has the ammunition to back up this theory with good evidence.  He starts with a discussion of the Giving Pledge, reprinting word for word several pledge letters written by such philanthropists as David Rubenstein, Peter Peterson, Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett, George Kaiser, and David Rockefeller. One of the primary repeating themes you find in those letters is at the core of Acs’ book – the idea that philanthropy is intended by those who engage in it to create new opportunities for the next generation of entrepreneurs, and in doing so, becomes essential fuel for American capitalism.
Continue reading

Embracing Emergence – Part 2

Winter_2013_Cover_mag_page-170x223

Posted by Eileen Ellsworth

This is the second and final post on “Embracing Emergence: How Collective Impact Addresses Complexity” by John Kania and Mark R. Kramer from the January 21, 2013 issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Generally speaking, community based nonprofits fight an uphill battle. From their perspective, there are never enough resources or opportunity. They must relentlessly prove the value of their isolated impact to potential donors in order to win funding in the first place. And more often than not, they act alone.

Enter “collective impact,” stage right.  According to Kania and Kramer, cross sector collaborations are discovering something rather unexpected. From the perspective of the collaborative, there are enough resources, opportunities, and solutions to achieve real, lasting change.  And here is why:
Continue reading

Embracing Emergence – Part 1

Winter_2013_Cover_mag_page-170x223

Posted by Eileen Ellsworth.

This is the first of two blog posts on a recent article in Stanford Social Innovation Review entitled “Embracing Emergence: How Collective Impact Addresses Complexity” by John Kania and Mark Kramer of FSG.

Since their important article in the spring 2011 issue of Stamford Social Innovation Review on collective impact, John Kania and Mark Kramer of FSG have further clarified the elements of successful cross-sector coalitions addressing complex social issues.  In this most recent article on the topic, Kania and Kramer focus on one such element in particular:  Emergence.

Continue reading

The Giving Pledge and Local Philanthropy

Monument 2Posted by Elizabeth Murphy.

Today’s guest post comes to you from Elizabeth Murphy, president of Leadership Fairfax.

I’ve been thinking a lot about leadership in effective philanthropy in this fast-changing world. Who is showing us the way in terms of personal giving?

In the DC area, we don’t have to look far to find philanthropist David Rubenstein, co-founder of the Carlyle Group. He has done tremendous and effective giving in our area – notable examples include the National Archives, the Kennedy Center (he funded the new organ in the Concert Hall and an expansion to the building), the National Park Service for the restoration of the Washington Monument after the earthquake, and to the Smithsonian. I’m impressed by the specificity of his gifts, and by his quick and enthusiastic nature – he clearly loves giving his money away, and I love hearing what his latest project is going to be. The institutions that have been the recipient of his largess are surely fortunate, and, no doubt, there are hundreds more waiting for his return phone call.

Continue reading

Giving 2.0, part 7

Giving2.0cover

Cover of Giving 2.0

Posted by Eileen Ellsworth

This is the seventh and final post in a series reviewing the book “Giving 2.0” by Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen (Great Giving LLC, 2012)

Beyond the collective giving models, there is yet another trick in the bag of involved donors – the unique ability of philanthropists to advocate for change and to influence public policy.

Continue reading