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.
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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.

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