Get ‘Em While They’re Fresh: New Books for November 2014

In keeping with the spirit of the approaching holidays, the following three books address giving in its many different forms.

The Paradox of Generosity

The Paradox of Generosity: Giving We Receive, Grasping We Lose

For many of us, the act of giving feels right; it verifies that our inner compass is calibrated correctly.  For further confirmation and a rewarding read, reach for The Paradox of Generosity: Giving We Receive, Grasping We Lose.  Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson demonstrate an association between generosity and well-being (for the giver) with empirical evidence from their surveys and interviews of almost 2000 Americans.  In essence, generosity benefits both the receiver and the giver. However, fundamental to this equation is the authenticity of the generosity—the giver must be motivated to help others, not to personally benefit.  The authors’ findings echo one of the many proverbs dotting this book:  “A bit of fragrance always clings to the hand that gives roses. If you are generous, you will gain everything”   ~Confucius (p. 184).   Available at the John T. Richardson Library, Call Number: 179.9 S6446p

Why Philanthrophy Matters (book cover)Why Philanthropy Matters: How the Wealthy Give, and What It Means for Our Economic Well-Being

Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates brought philanthropy to the forefront of social responsibility discussions when they launched the Giving Pledge in 2010. While a major step forward, the economist Zoltan J. Acs believes that philanthropy is “the invisible, underappreciated force for progress in American-style capitalism” (p. 176).  He discusses the importance of this activity in Why Philanthropy Matters: How the Wealthy Give, and What It Means for Our Economic Well-Being. Central to his analysis are four characteristics of U.S. capitalism: entrepreneurship/innovation, philanthropy, wealth creation, and opportunity.  Acs traces the historical ebb and flow of these characteristics and maps their influence to periods of U.S. economic prosperity.  In today’s context he sees high innovation, significant wealth creation, and modest philanthropy; sadly, he is less optimistic about access to economic opportunities for all members of society.   Available at the John T. Richardson Library, Call Number: Call Number: 361.74 A999W

Tech Billionaire$: Reshaping Philanthropy in a Quest for a Better World (book cover)Tech Billionaire$: Reshaping Philanthropy in a Quest for a Better World

Lewis D. Solomon profiles the philanthropic efforts of several tech billionaires to illustrate how 21st century philanthropy is evolving to more effectively address enduring social problems.  Introduced by Carnegie and Rockefeller, the traditional model of large foundations has persisted as the mechanism for distributing vast wealth–until the tech era.  This industry has rapidly produced a group of new billionaires, many of whom achieved success through risk-taking, collaboration, hard work, and non-conventional business paths. These same attributes influence their approach to philanthropy:  hands-on; partners not patrons; for-profit metrics and models; entrepreneurial; and building bridges between non-profit, for-profit, and the public sector.  Perhaps most importantly, these tech philanthropists possess the essential quality that Smith and Davidson identified in their work, authentic generosity.   Check out Tech Billionaire$: Reshaping Philanthropy in a Quest for a Better World to learn who these tech billionaires are. Available at the John T. Richardson Library, Call Number: 361.7 S6894T

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