Here are some resources to help you develop a personal philosophy of giving that matches your individual goals and beliefs.
How should I get started thinking about my charitable giving?
A contemporary, practical resource is Inspired Philanthropy by Tracy Gary and Melissa Kohner. This workbook has useful background about the big picture of giving. A similar overview with a business executive bent is Howard Weiss' The Philanthropic Executive.
The Future of Philanthropy has been created to "improve the practice of philanthropy." Sponsored by two major foundations, it offers tools for selecting a charity/cause to support with your donations (local/global, immediate needs, long-term commitment, etc.). It is rather dry, but the menu lets you browse the site easily.
Why should I be generous? What difference will it make for me and my community?
Consider Andrew Carnegie's classic, The Gospel of Wealth, or a more contemporary volume, The Greater Good, by Claire Gaudiani, which is filled with stories of the remarkable impact of citizen generosity on American democratic and economic success. Read the Program's review of this book (Beyond, page 7). For an inspirational account of the benefits of giving, review The Cathedral Within by Bill Shore.
Finding happiness is a major pursuit in today's society. The correlation between generosity and happiness is discussed frequently in Thomas J. Stanley's book Stop Acting Rich...and Start Living Like a Real Millionaire. Research cited indicates that millionaires who contributed at least 10% of their income to charitable causes "get more satisfaction from accumulating wealth and giving than from consuming more."
How will giving affect me and my family, especially my children and grandchildren?
The National Center for Family Philanthropy offers many useful tools for family-oriented philanthropy. The Philanthropic Initiative, a not-for-profit consulting group, also has workbooks for family giving. In addition, we recommend the very witty Classic Issues in Family Succession Planning by G. Warren Whitaker, which appeared in Probate and Property in March/April 2003. Whitaker shows how proper estate planning could have helped resolve the classic conflicts at the heart of a number of major Shakespeare plays, with his tongue only partially in his cheek.
How much should I give? How much can I afford to give?
A very inspiring read is Ken Dayton's philosophy of giving entitled Stages of Giving, published by The Independent Sector. Also consider a book by Claude Rosenberg, a successful money manager turned author, called Wealthy and Wise: How You and America Can Get the Most Out of Your Giving. Based on his guidelines, you can calculate what you realistically can afford to give. Read the Program's interview with Rosenberg (Beyond, pages 2-4).
Are there any resources that examine women's approaches to giving?
Consider The Transformative Power of Women's Philanthropy, edited by Martha Taylor and Sondra Shaw-Hardy, published by Jossey Bass. This new compilation of brief, readable essays covers the history, impact, and unique strategies of women's philanthropy. Additional references include Learning to Give and the files of The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
What do I plan to give—money, time, knowledge, or a combination?
It is easy to equate giving with writing a check. But a contribution of time and knowledge to a not-for-profit organization is always welcome and often deeply satisfying. Volunteer Match helps would-be volunteers connect to organizations in need. It is searchable by region and by topic. You can also read the Program's article on volunteerism (Beyond, pages 2-3).
A current trend in philanthropy is so-called venture philanthropy, in which donors take an activist investor role in helping to guide, manage, and evaluate one or more not-for-profits. For more information about this topic, read the Program's newsletter (Beyond, pages 2-3).