David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants
Malcolm Gladwell (Little, Brown and Company, 2013)
Reviewed by Danielle Oristian York
As the title indicates, Gladwell takes the biblical story of David and Goliath, the Israelite shepherd boy who defeated the giant warrior of the Philistines as his central metaphor to present an eclectic set of intriguing possibilities and musings about human behavior all focused on the premise that the act of facing overwhelming odds produces greatness and beauty. In his typical style for those familiar, he links big ideas together in fascinating ways to make his case. He connects people who are dyslexic with a hero of the civil rights movement and the citizens of London during the blitz, suggesting they all managed to turn disadvantages into advantages and came out better for it, calling this the “theory of desirable difficulty.” Then he takes the flip side where he postures, that those that have qualities that appear to give them strength, are often the sources of great weakness.
With his close reading of each of these intriguing stories about a range of fascinating characters, Gladwell outlines his thesis: that “much of what we consider valuable in our world arises out of lopsided conflicts, because the act of facing overwhelming odds produces greatness and beauty.” More important, “we constantly get these kind of conflicts wrong.” That is, we misread and misinterpret: “Giants are not what we think they are.”
As I consider the challenges each of us faces and those that exist in the world and so many are passionate about changing, I’m heartened by the sense of hopeful possibility Gladwell’s perspective evokes and intrigued to consider how to be prepared to revisit our apparent advantages.
Archived Editorial Reviews
The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change
Adam Braun (Scribner, 2014)
Adam Braun shares his incredibly inspirational journey in a way that will make you feel as though you are right there with him, with each page you turn. You will get to know members of his family, his friends, the love of his life, his mentors and supporters and how each one of them contributed, in various ways to where he is today, leading to the creation of his for-purpose organization, Pencils Of Promise. Adam was in college thinking he would graduate, get a well paying job in finance, save his money while living a good life and then live his dream, which was to build one school, when he could retire in his sixties.
Released today, The Promise of a Pencil; How An Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change, tells the story of why and how non of that happened. It is written in a way that feels warm, inviting, and heartfelt. Adam shares his personal story from the very beginning, with immense honesty, through 30 beautiful and powerful mantras, which serve as the chapter titles. You may laugh and cry, but most of all, you will feel inspired to live each day of your life to be a story worth telling, which is Mantra 30. When we live our lives as a story worth telling, among many other benefits, we have an opportunity to serve as an inspiration for those we connect with to do the same in their lives.
These are 12 of the 30 Mantras which offer a sense of what is discussed throughout this book. These Mantras can be applied to all aspects of our lives, our work and certainly our clients as they engage in their philanthropy.
*GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
*KNOW THAT YOU HAVE A PURPOSE
*EMBRACE THE LIGHTNING MOMENTS
*BIG DREAMS START WITH SMALL UNREASONABLE ACTS
*PRACTICE HUMILITY OVER HUBRIS
*HAPPINESS IS FOUND IN CELEBRATING OTHERS
*READ THE SIGNS ALONG THE PATH
*STAY GUIDED BY YOUR VALUES
*SURROUND YOURSELF WITH THOSE WHO MAKE YOU BETTER
*VULNERABILITY IS VITAL
*LISTEN TO YOUR ECHOES
*IF YOUR DREAMS DO NOT SCARE YOU THEY ARE NOT BIG ENOUGH
In sharing his vulnerabilities and shining a light on the importance and value of doing so throughout this book, Adam offers countless useful gems for anyone who yearns to find meaning and purpose in their life. As the title indicates, Adam Braun is an ordinary man who has created extraordinary change and continues to do so. His experiences and wisdom gained along the way will help you bring your passion to life.
Adam is generous with the way in which he chose to tell his story. While this book offers many treasures, the ultimate gift is that it gives you tangible ways to become your dreams and live with meaning, purpose, and passion. It's powerful to come away from a read with not just inspiration, but a clear understanding and a guide for how to make a difference and leave the world a bit better than it is.
Especially relevant and interesting to the world of Philanthropy, Adam not only shares the evolution of his organization, Pencils of Promise, but he also talks about a shift he hopes to see in the language. He makes a valid case for presenting things from the positive, referring to the work as for-purpose rather than non-profit. He also adds great value for anyone hoping to create a for-purpose organization with the intention to solve a problem from an entrepreneurial business perspective.
When asked to contribute a few words about why he thought this book might be fitting to this specific group, here is what he said:
"The book was written to equip people with both the ability and ambition to pursue a far off dream that might seem unattainable. The first third of the book is about igniting that spark, the second part is about explaining how to get things off the ground, and the final part is about creating something that extends far past yourself. The Promise of a Pencil is part narrative, part how-to, and all about helping people lead a life of success and significance."
*100% OF THE PROCEEDS FROM THIS BOOK WILL GO TO PENCILS OF PROMISE.
Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being
Martin E.P. Seligman (Atria Books, 2012)
Marty Seligman's book, Flourish, introduces and provides a comprehensive overview of the burgeoning field of Positive Psychology. Positive Psychology paired with philanthropy makes for a potentially wise and practical partnership.
As legend has it, Martin E. P. Seligman coined the term “Positive Psychology,” (PP) in 1998, as incoming president of the American Psychological Association. He wanted to challenged the field to consider the positive side of psychology: happiness, joy, well-being, love, awe, etc. Since WWII most psychological research focused on what he consider “pain and human misery.” Psychology has primarily addressed depression, anxiety, negative manifestations of the psyche. He invited psychologists to include psychological strengths, as well as psychological weaknesses in their studies. Seligman’s challenge was met with great passion. Since then PP has flourished.
Flourish is both accessible theory and practical practice. PP is not “positive thinking.” Its not about changing your mind or thinking. It encompasses thinking, for sure, but it is extremely practical, empirically studied and supported by research. Flourish provides a comprehensive overview of PP’s research on “Post-Traumatic Growth,” “Positive Education,” and “GRIT,” to name a few. And, Flourish provides methods to develop well-being and happiness.
In particular Seligman provides a useful acronym to help the reader develop a practical sense of PP. PERMA: P = Positive Emotion, E = Engagement, R = Positive Relationships / Relating, M = Meaning, and A = Accomplishment / Achievement.
Some time ago I wrote the following for my PP blog (garyshunk.com) to illustrate the “R” in PERMA:
So...Erica arrives home from work and excitedly tells her husband, Jeff, “I got the promotion!” Jeff turns to Erica smiles and says, “WOW, that’s great! Tell me ALL about it.” He takes Erica by the hand and leads her to a chair and sits her down. Jeff places himself directly across from her, leans forward, gazes into his wife’s smiling face, and says, “OK, tell me.”
In that moment Jeff enters Erica’s world of joy with genuine, intentional and devoted interest. At points in her story, he asks, “What were you feeling when your boss told you?” “Tell me verbatim what you and your boss said to one another.” “What was your drive home like?” After an hour of wrapped attention, Jeff says, “Let’s celebrate,” and asks Erica where she’d like to go for dinner that evening.
The above is an illustration of Positive Relating, This is a Positive Psychology intervention. Imagine yourself on the receiving end. Erica is happy because of the good thing that happened to her today. When she arrives home, Jeff “actively,” and “constructively,” responds to Erica’s good news and her happiness. He puts his needs and agenda to the side and is 100% present, and curious about the good thing that happened to his wife. The outcome of Jeff’s investment is a gift for Erica, their marriage, their children and extended family, as well as their community because it magnifies happiness.
This illustration may seem cliche. but, it really takes intention and effort to be present for someone’s joy. When the investment happens, it deepens what is already there, extends the joy and happiness, as well as solidifies the relationship.
Obviously I am a big fan of Marty Seligman. Nevertheless, I believe Flourish is a great introduction to PP. You will discover PP is not “self help,” but rather a solid field of psychology with its foundation in empirical study and scientific research. As I like to say: there is nowhere PP is not applicable.
Raising Financially Fit Kids, 2nd Edition
Jolene Godfrey (TenSpeed Press, 2013)
“Young people who learn to manage both their human and financial capital are more at peace – and effective – than those kids who have learned to manage only one or the other.” –Joline Godfrey
Talking about money remains one of the most difficult subjects parents can raise with their children. Thanks to Joline Godfrey for her revised edition of Raising Financially Fit Kids! This completely updated version includes financial education guidance for 5-18 year olds and now twenty-somethings as well. And as stated in the 21/64 review of the first edition, the book still “resonates with 21/64's approach in talking openly with family members across generations about values and focusing on preparing the next generation for their imminent responsibilities.”
Organized by five developmental stages, Godfrey presents a clearly laid-out framework of Ten Basic Money Skills – from how to save and invest to how to use money to change the world to how to be a citizen of the world – and how these can be taught and reinforced at each stage. Each stage is accompanied by a clear Life/Money Map that highlights the appropriate money skills to master and a handy chart with suggested actions and resources tied to each of the basic money skills. A couple of the stages even have suggested Money Messages to share with kids.
Regardless of your income level or that of your clients, if you’re struggling with how to talk with your kids about money and finances, this is the book for you. And yet, the book is about so much more than money. Godfrey’s sage advice, plentiful examples, and clever ideas will allow you to engage your kids in a financial education that will prepare them to be “self-confident kids who have the tools to realize their dreams.”
Even if you don’t have kids, you probably have young people in your life who you could mentor. Godfrey encourages the creation of Money Mentoring Teams and says, “Financial literacy is economic self-defense and we all have responsibilities to function as money mentors, guides, and ‘consultants’ to the next generation.”
Although the idea of philanthropy is woven throughout the book, Godfrey even includes a short chapter on raising young philanthropists. As she points out, “Philanthropy provides a tool for galvanizing kids to master the other nine basic money skills….Encouraging philanthropic engagement early plays a critical role in helping kids develop a sense of purpose and meaning. Kids who feel they are part of something greater than themselves become more grounded, self-confident adults.”
Pick up a copy of Raising Financially Fit Kids and start your conversation today!
Deborah Goldstein is an independent philanthropic advisor and certified 21/64 trainer specializing in guiding the next generation in giving. More about Deborah can be found at enlightenedphilanthropy.com.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
Susan Cain (Broadway Books, January 2013)
"In a gentle way, you can shake the world." - Gandhi (from Susan Cain's Manifesto)
"Everyone shines, given the right lighting. For some, it’s a Broadway spotlight, for others, a lamp lit desk." - Susan Cain
These two quotes speak to the core of what this book is about. Any book that helps us to further examine ourselves and see others as well as our human connections in a new light is a definite gem.
Susan Cain offers readers (both introverts & extroverts) a valuable reminder that there is deep value and richness in being an introvert, especially in a time where there seems to be an excessive amount of noise in our world. For the extroverts especially, Quiet presents an intelligent and thoughtful window into the human psyche of introverts as Cain highlights the significance of thinking about how we interact with different personalities, as well as how we view and value contributions in ourselves and in others.
Shedding light on the power of the gifts that introverts often possess, which might include a gentle disposition, silence, solitude, reflection and sensitivity, Cain offers validation to the introverts of the world. She also provides insight into the way both introverts and extroverts think, function and interact, in an effort to help us all better understand ourselves and our fellow humans in a more enlightened and authentic way; be it our friends, family, clients or strangers we encounter.
As a self described introvert, Cain celebrates all that introverts contribute to the world. Her passion comes through in this thoughtful read that is backed by thorough & diligent research.
For introverts, extroverts and anyone in between, Quiet will hopefully leave you with a greater awareness and a desire to open your heart and mind in new ways, to make room for those you may not have quite understood before. It will undoubtedly have you pondering how you see yourself and others, as you navigate through all areas of your life. Cain provides invaluable wisdom which we can certainly incorporate into our intimate work with families as well as our colleagues.
Adena Edelstein is an independent philanthropy consultant and a certified 21/64 trainer. She is dedicated to helping others create meaningful change. More about Adena can be found at engageinphilanthropy.squarespace.com.
The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids
Madeline Levine (Harper, 2006)
In The Price of Privilege, Madeline Levine, PhD, examines the issues high net worth families face. Framed in developmental terms, we see how living in extremely competitive successful communities can permeate and undermine healthy relationships. Parents may invest too much in their child’s performance rather than respecting his/her needs and unique personality. Buying an abundance of possessions, expensive schools and lavish vacations cannot replace the necessity of setting appropriate limits and investing “quality time.”
Interestingly enough, these families face a paradox of affluence and deprivation – the profusion of things and the scarcity of genuine understanding, attention and love. The link depicted between adolescent depression and acting out behavior, particularly drug abuse and other dangerous activities, is frightening and accurate.
With great insight and a clear voice, the author provides concrete guidance for parents as they teach their children responsibility, solid values and unconditional love. This advice emphasizes the role of structure and appropriate consequences for misbehavior in shaping self-esteem and character.
Illustrations taken from the author’s therapy practice in Marin County, California anchor the explanation of the role parents play in their child’s emerging personality. Of particular value, the book examines the ways in which parents are unhappy in their own lives may create enmeshed and intrusive relationships with their children to lessen the parent’s own loneliness and frustration.
The pressures on both parents and children of privilege can drive, either directly or indirectly, the decisions parents and grandparents make – about investments, estate planning, education, philanthropy, and other concerns for which clients seek professional advice. Advisors who understand family dynamics, worries and problems are more effective and trusted than those focused only on the their profession's technical requirements.
In summary, this well-written book should be read and reread by parents, clinicians and other advisors to high net worth clients.
Reviewed by 21/64-trained advisor Barbara Feinberg, LISW-S, IMFT, a life coach and psychotherapist specializing in the emotional impact of wealth on individuals and families.
Ambiguous Loss: Learning to live with Unresolved Grief
Pauline Boss (Harvard University Press, November 2000)
Barbara Feinberg, LISW-S, IMFT is a life coach/psychotherapist and certified 21/64 trainer and consultant with particular expertise in the emotional impact of wealth. Her clients have a wide range of issues, many related to life transitions.
Ambiguous loss is one without closure, leaving the bereft stuck, unable to move on.
Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are pervasive in our society. These conditions can precipitate sorrow without closure, a response that is different from and considered far more difficult than the reactions commonly seen after a death.
Those who care for and about loved ones diagnosed with these and many other disabling conditions struggle with complex and challenging practical considerations and related decisions.
Often, the responsibility for making such decisions falls to children and grandchildren. The relationships between generations, different values, geographic dispersion and varying degrees of understanding the needs and status of the declining family member may provoke intense conflict in families.
High net worth families may have considerably more choice and flexibility in arranging necessary care. However, the potential disruption of individual and family functioning related to mourning a profound loss before the death of their loved one cannot be resolved with financial resources alone.
Pauline Boss, in her fine book Ambiguous Loss, conceptualizes this little understood variant of grief as a trauma impacting on the whole family.
Ambiguous loss of a family member who is physically present and psychologically absent, includes those who:
Suffer from mental illness and/or addiction
Face a life-threatening illness
Ambiguous loss is also present when families are faced with a psychological presence that is physically absent. These “lost” may include those who:
The military identifies as missing in action
Disappear without a trace
Leave a committed relationship and sever contact
Cut themselves off from family contact
Live far away, arein touch, but not seen (as in the families of immigrants)
In all of these cases, the usual rituals and community support associated with mourning are likely to be missing, “disenfranchising” the grief. In fact, those dealing with such ambiguity may be told to “get over it” despite the lack of closure that can prevent a healing bereavement process.
Responding to change in family dynamics and structure requires a tolerance for not knowing, a different definition of “hope,” clarity about who is in and who is out of the family, and a communication process that supports a new definition of family.
Since ambiguous loss is ubiquitous, we can all benefit from understanding the nature of this experience. I encourage professionals in a variety of disciplines and the community at large to read this very valuable book.
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
Brené Brown (Gotham, 2012)
In a culture and a profession where we like to fix or prevent vulnerability, Brené Brown and her book Daring Greatly reminds me of how our struggles make us who we are. I saw her infamous TED talk on vulnerability in 2011 and was hooked. Since them I’ve been following her on Twitter, reading her blog, and this year Daring Greatly has been my go-to gift.
Based on twelve years of data, social scientific research she conducted first into shame and then into qualities that distinguish lives with a strong sense of worthiness, Brown is frank and so relatable. Self-described as a classic American perfectionist who wore exhaustion as a status symbol, she shares her personal resistance to her own findings and then exquisitely and uncomfortably describes the difference between making our children happy and raising brave, engaged human beings.
Brown opens Daring Greatly with this quote from Teddy Roosevelt:
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly."
Walking into the arena, whatever it may be – a new client/donor relationship, an important meeting, our creative process, or a difficult family conversation – with courage and the willingness to engage, rather than sitting on the sidelines and hurling judgment and advice. This is Daring Greatly – showing up and letting ourselves be seen.
This book struck a chord with me personally and professionally, making me rethink the experiences where progress was made or engagement was achieved – each of those experiences were responses to acts of courage and vulnerability by one or more people present.
My thanks to Dr. Brown for sharing her own experience in tandem with the data – inspiring me to show up and embrace my vulnerabilities. Please contact me to share your thoughts and ideas on this topic or book.
Reviewed by Danielle Oristian York
A Wealth of Possibilities: Navigating Family, Money, and Legacy
Ellen Miley Perry (Egremont Press, 2012)
A mentor and founder of the field of family wealth advising, Jay Hughes, recently sent me a copy of Ellen Miley Perry's A Wealth of Possibilities: Navigating Family, Money, and Legacy. Because it arrived from Jay, I moved it to the top of my growing reading pile. I highly recommend this book if you are in the process of figuring out how to raise a grounded, responsible, values-respecting yet independent-minded child within the context of a wealthy family. In particular, check out chapter three, “Pitch a Big Tent,” for tangible suggestions to that end.
I've read a lot of books by colleagues in the field as I've worked on issues of engaging the next generation for more than a decade at 21/64 and close to a decade previously, and this is one of the best – accessible, gentle, yet targeted and encouraging. Perry gives ideas and new ways of looking at the same issue we've heard about forever; I have a number of dog-eared pages to revisit.
So thank you Jay for sending this book. Thank you Ellen Perry for taking the time to write down what you've learned during your distinguished and successful career. I look forward to hearing what other readers take away from it, so please don't hesitate to contact me.
Reviewed by Sharna Goldseker
Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents
Christine Carter (Ballantine Books, 2010)
In a culture where Wii, Princess dresses, and iPads dominate, children from families of wealth can easily become focused on material gain rather than on creating meaning in their lives. At 21/64, we work with next generation inheritors of wealth and philanthropy who aspire to find their purpose, their passions, and direct their energy toward creating change in the world given their resources – ambitious pursuits for anyone, let alone for people who could easily be distracted by things they can buy rather than fund.
To inform our work, we¹ve benefited from following the books, blogs and online teachings of Christine Carter, Director of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley and author of Raising Happiness. Carter argues that happiness is neither an innate nor a fixed condition, and that parents are in a unique position to create the environments which will lead to their children being happier not only in childhood, but throughout their adult lives. Her new book outlines, in ten simple steps, how parents can actively engage children, offering methods by which parents can promote values such as gratitude to combat a child's sense of entitlement or forgiveness to undermine anger.
Carter¹s approach is a balance of scientific research and techniques developed from her personal experiences as a mother. While every family could benefit from the various lessons outlined in the book, Carter focuses on teaching children how to be grateful and how to live meaningful lives – lessons that are particularly important for families with significant financial resources. Accessible to parents and advisors to families grappling with how to raise philanthropic children, we commend Raising Happiness by book or blog.
Fair Food: Growing a Healthy, Sustainable Food System for All
Oran B. Hesterman (PublicAffairs, 2012)
As 21/64 embarks on establishing our new donor education collaborative, “Ripe for Change,” in partnership with the Nathan Cummings Foundation and the Local Economies Project we were looking for a book to help guide our thinking. We believe that just as food is at the center of many of our most pressing problems it can also be the center of the solution. Fair Food by Oran B. Hesterman typifies this thinking. There is a plethora of media about what is wrong with our food system, but this book shows well the movement from problem to practical solutions in a language easily accessible to funders. The book outlines and explains four principles of a redesigned food system more suited to the present than the past: equity, diversity, ecological integrity and economic viability. A chapter is devoted to each, including examples of individuals and groups (perhaps potential grantees) that have begun to integrate the ideas.
Formerly of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation where he co-led their Food and Society Programs, Hesterman is now the President and CEO of the Fair Food Network. Hesterman writes in the language of philanthropy, tackling this complex issue from a funding perspective. The explanation of our current system, as well as the roadmap he provides for the creation of a future food system that runs smoothly and fairly, speaks to the population 21/64 works with. We look forward to discussing it in “Ripe for Change,” welcome new funders to join us, and hope that many more enjoy the book.
Reviewed by Jos Thalheimer
Raising Financially Fit Kids
Joline Godfrey (Ten Speed Press, 2003)
At 21/64, we are often asked by parents: How do I raise philanthropic children? How do I raise financially aware kids? How do I raise kids with good values? So recently, we dug out our copy of Joline Godfrey's Raising Financially Fit Kids, and read it again. Though the book was published in 2003, we were reminded just how great a resource it is; it resonates with 21/64's approach in talking openly with family members across generations about values and focusing on preparing the next generation for their imminent responsibilities.
As Godfrey writes, “Often parents withhold information on the premise that it will only make kids feel anxious. This overlooks the quiet anxiety of kids whose fantasies create far more distressing realities than actually exist.” For parents who want to pass on a set of values but have difficulty taking the first step in the money conversation, Raising Financially Fit Kids offers practical advice and concrete action steps to help your children make choices around money. “Kids” are divided into four different groups from ages five to eighteen. “Money skills” such as saving, investing, talking about money, and philanthropy are all offered at each stage and in a variety of styles that recognize the power that media, advertising, and peers play in the lives of our children. From experiential learning and “money mentors” who can discuss financial issues with children, to volunteering and starting a small business, this book offers tons of practical suggestions to delve into money in a reasonable way.
Of course, we like the chapter on Raising Young Philanthropists. While parents of wealth report feeling lucky that the next generation may not have to worry about basic needs, research shows that “these kids are more likely to struggle with identity issues, lack of confidence, and questions of worth and spirituality, and may display a significant lack of concern for or awareness of others,” reflecting the ups and downs of a financial legacy. A variety of approaches are suggested to help connect values, interests, and passions with other people's needs. For both parents and others who work with young people of wealth, the book offers myriad ways to explore how the next generation will view their gifts and responsibilities.
The M-Factor: How the Millennial Generation is Rocking the Workplace
Lynne C. Lancaster and David Stillman (HarperCollins Publishers, 2010)
In their book, Lancaster and Stillman identify seven trends that comprise the M-factor, the defining qualities of the generation born between 1982 and 2000. These include: the role of parents, sense of entitlement, search for meaning, their great expectations, their need for speed, the role of social networking and the significance of collaboration. These themes manifest themselves in the daily lives of the Millennials who can't submit a paper in college without getting mom and dad to proofread it first, expect constant feedback and recognition for their hard work, and yearn for meaning in their jobs. The members of this generation have no problem telling their bosses that there is a better way to accomplish something, can be found constantly multitasking, rely heavily on Facebook and Twitter as survival tools for their buzzing social lives, and work better in teams than previous generations. This cohort, 76 million strong, is reshaping the workforce faster than you can say "tweet."
From a not-for-profit perspective, this book sheds light on the ways in which the Millennials can best be engaged, both within and outside of the workplace. Lancaster and Stillman do an excellent job revealing what the Millennials expect both from their superiors and themselves. Understanding evolving trends among generations, in the context of philanthropic engagement, is particularly critical with regard to Millennials given that this generation ranks 'making a difference' the most important factor in their lives and is willing to sacrifice higher pay in order to do so. The book highlights how this generation seeks to support and be associated with companies that are civically engaged. It is also comfortable adopting new forms of giving, such as 'crowdsourced' philanthropy in which individuals have the ability to directly influence how a corporation spends its charitable dollars.
Ultimately, successful understanding and engagement of the Millennial generation is about finding common ground between it and its predecessors. Millennials, like all upcoming generations, will need to learn to respect past generations in order to benefit from the experiences of their generational forbearers. At the same time, Traditionalists, Boomers, and Xers will gain by appreciating that this up-and-coming generation, despite sometimes seeming attitudinally entitled, excessively dependent, and scattered in focus, is shaped by a set of values and beliefs which empower them in a unique way.
Each generation faces its own challenges. As older generations today are more involved than ever before in their adult children's lives, Millennials are struggling to find a place for Grandma on Facebook. In short, this generation is successfully bringing innovative ideas to the development of social structures in a variety of areas — personal, professional, political and philanthropic. Optimal success for all will be best achieved to the extent that intergenerational differences are bridged.
Reviewed by Stephanie Lerner, Intern, The Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies and proud to be a Millennial
Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations
Clay Shirky (Penguin Press, 2008)
Clay Shirky's book Here Comes Everybody is a thoughtful study of social media and its impact on how we live. Shirky begins with a story about a girl, Ivanna, who loses her cell phone in a New York City taxi. Her friend Evan agrees to help her recover it. Evan tracks down and contacts Sasha, who found and has been using the phone and refuses to return it. In response, Evan builds a website describing these events, sends the link to friends, updates it continuously, and adds a message board. A few days later, the story is picked up by media outlets including the New York Times, CNN, and dozens of newspapers, television stations, and websites. Within a couple of weeks, Ivanna's phone is recovered and Sasha is arrested.
Ivanna's tale is hardly newsworthy. Losing a cell phone is a regular occurrence in NYC taxis. According to Shirky, the story is less about the mechanics of the recovery—Evan's website and the message board—and more about the how the story tapped into humanity's visceral sense of injustice. The website and media serve merely as tools to amplify a powerful message that resonates on a deep level and stimulates individual and collective action. Without the message, the tools are irrelevant.
Shirky is a good story teller and uses this ability to build his case. He captures what is possible by illustrating how the power of technology, driven by individuals and groups, can facilitate, amplify, expedite and transform society. Shirky also understands that social media as a whole is a nascent technology and as it evolves, so will our relationship to it and the world. In other words, it's a fluid, not a fixed relationship.
From a not-for-profit perspective, the question is, how does Shirky's book apply? You could also ask the opposite, how doesn't it apply? His book is about how we communicate and interact with each other, society and the world. Most non-for-profits spend a considerable amount of time communicating to its staff, board, donors and those who benefit from its services. The challenge is doing it well.
From this perspective, Here Comes Everybody serves both as a guide to the power of emerging technologies and a cautionary tale. For Shirky, it's about how we use these tools. Organizations with a clear, compelling, and well-articulated mission with a discrete set of action steps will amplify the message, engage a broad audience, and harness collective energy.
The opposite is also true. For organizations that don't know who they are and what they're trying to do, social media will function as a megaphone and let the whole world know it. While social media can highlight your strengths, it can also expose your weaknesses. It's not about just having a Facebook page and a Twitter account. It's who you are and what you believe in.
Shirky's book is optimistic. It's about the power and potential of technology driven by humanity.
Reviewed by Jason Soloway, Vice President, The Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies
Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality
Scott Belsky (Portfolio Hardcover, April 2010)
Gen Y-er Stephanie Lerner, our summer 2010 intern and member of UPenn's Class of 2011, sat down for a conversation with Gen X's Scott Belsky, CEO and founder of Behance and author of Making Ideas Happen.
What inspired you to write Making Ideas Happen?
A great sense of frustration that most ideas never see the light of day. The likelihood of an idea actually transpiring has nothing to do with how great it is; it's because of a series of other forces. So the frustration for me was, gosh, there are so many great ideas out there and people need to become better leaders of their ideas and actually give these ideas a chance to happen. So it was that frustration that most ideas never happen that triggered the interest and then a lot of the research that made me fully convinced that there are other forces at play when ideas actually happen besides the creative side.
Who is the target audience for the book?
Any individual or team, regardless of industry, that is trying to develop ideas to solve problems. And back to my earlier point, individuals and teams that have that frustration about making their ideas happen.
What is an instance in which you couldn't make an idea happen that you really thought was going to work out?
I would say that I don't pursue ideas I know I can't execute. That's where I think people get distracted and get off course. So there isn't one particular idea that I can think of that I tried to pursue and couldn't because often times I decide that it's not the right time. I want to be productive with my energy. Therefore, I try to attack ideas that I'm in the unique position of being able to execute. And that's how we've worked as a team at Behance.
What was the most difficult part about writing the book?
Having the daily responsibilities of running a company. Every day in an entrepreneurial environment is a challenging day--like a firehouse, there are so many things going on at once—so it's impossible to write during the day. I had to save windows of time every night, or go to a café late at night, spend weekends writing, all difficult because it was a grueling schedule to keep.
Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
That we all have the ability to develop the capacity to make ideas happen. I don't know where ideas come from and I don't know if creativity is nature versus nurture. What I do know is if you have ideas you can build the capacity to execute them. It's something that is readily available to all of us. It's not easy, but it's there and that I'm sure of.
What book are you reading now?
I'm reading The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
How do you think the next generation will approach making ideas happen versus past/current generations?
I think that people will start pursuing their ideas earlier. In past generations, you've had to work your way up the ladder before you can make your own ideas happen. With the powers of technology and online communities and the fact that the next generation is most familiar with the newest technology, people will be able to spread their ideas more quickly and perhaps be entrepreneurial at a younger age.
Interview has been condensed and edited.
The Art of Giving: Where the Soul Meets a Business Plan
Charles Bronfman and Jeffrey Solomon (Jossey-Bass, 2010)
What is the new philanthropist? Someone "who looks at her activities with a refreshing frankness and realism. She is less saint than engineer. She has two essential questions that she asks herself and others in the organization every day: What are my goals? How do I define success?" Thus begins an early chapter in The Art of Giving: Where the Soul Meets a Business Plan, by Charles Bronfman and Jeffrey Solomon, respectively the Chairman and President of the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies. While the latter day philanthropist is savvy, she is also compelled by the 'why' of her gift, what she cares about and the personal feelings it ultimately elicits. Regardless of your financial wealth, how do you do philanthropy in a way that marries your values with your business acumen? What does it mean to be a trustee of a nonprofit board and what are your obligations? How do you intentionally expose your children to your giving? What is the difference between a restricted capital gift and a time-restricted gift? These are just some of the questions explored by Bronfman and Solomon in a book informed by their myriad roles as corporation head, nonprofit director and trustee. It concludes with twenty questions to ask yourself and a host of nonprofit resources to assist you in your investment in changing the world.
Do More Than Give: The Six Practices of Donors Who Change the World
Leslie R. Crutchfield, John V. Kania, Mark R. Kramer (Jossey-Bass, March 2011)
Leslie Crutchfield believes donors can effect transformational change. Having studied how several nonprofits scaled their impact from nothing to national—and sometimes even to global—Crutchfield gained a pretty good sense of how they achieved success. A key component of ramping up impact, she learned, is effective advocacy. When donors go beyond grantmaking and get their hands dirty engaging in activities that create change, says Crutchfield, the result is “catalytic philanthropy.” Thanks to help from 21/64, Dori Kreiger, Managing Director of Family Philanthropy Services at the Council on Foundations, sat down with Crutchfield to discuss her new book, Do More Than Give: The Six Practices of Donors Who Change the World, and the sector's latest buzzword.
After the success of Forces for Good, what inspired you to take on this latest work, Do More Than Give?
The essential driving question of Forces for Good was: What makes great nonprofits great? We studied 12 nonprofits that had scaled their impact from nothing to national to sometimes even global. Forces for Good was released in 2007, and in the subsequent three years I was invited to present to diverse groups of nonprofit leaders and donors about our findings and was often asked how to apply the principles in Forces for Good. At the time, I advised them to use of the six practices of high-impact nonprofits as a framework to inform grantmaking.
However, I realized that donors could do more than fund great nonprofits. They could embrace these six practices we discussed in Forces for Good, including advocacy—but I didn't know of a lot of foundation examples. Then I read Mark Kramar's article, “Catalytic Philanthropy,” in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, I thought, ‘this is it.' Catalytic philanthropy is high-impact donors doing the highly leveraged work that the great nonprofits do in Forces for Good. I was discussing with Mark Kramer and John Kania of FSG various collaboration opportunities, and it was a natural fit to co-author Do More Than Give: The 6 Practices of Donors Who Change the World.
“Catalytic philanthropy” seems to be the latest buzz phrase in the sector. How do you define it?
At a high level, “catalytic philanthropy” is what donors do when they go beyond grantmaking to engage in the activities that create transformational change.
The term “catalytic” comes from chemistry. It is the idea that adding a catalyst to a substance will create a change. If you mix a cup of flour with a cup of baking soda and add some water, you get about two cups of pasty stuff. If you combine a cup of baking soda with a cup of vinegar—kaboom! Combining these ingredients with a catalyst produces something that is different--and of much greater volume—than what you started with.
Catalytic donors give money and when combined with the actions they engage, they create more impact than if they were just giving grants. It enables the donors—including those that would consider themselves smaller donors, as profiled in the book—to achieve greater impact. It's how they punch above their weight.
How have you seen multigenerational engagement in family foundations strengthen a family's ability to be catalytic philanthropists?
Multigenerational family foundation leadership can cut both ways. Engaging multiple generations can either increase a family foundation's ability to be catalytic or work against it. It really depends on the family. For example, multigenerational engagement is what tipped the Jacobs Family Foundation into exercising catalytic philanthropy, as they combined first-generation business know-how with second-generation community development experience to revitalize the Diamond District community of San Diego.
In the book, we write about this in “Practice 4: Empower the People.” Catalytic donors don't view community members as ‘recipients of charity' or ‘a problem that needs to be solved.' Catalytic donors recruit people from the local community to both create solutions and be part of implementing solutions. The Jacobs Family Foundation has a distinct approach of working directly with local residents to uncover community needs, rather than making top-down grants.
The Jacobs family also worked with the community to exercise another best practice in the book, “Practice #2: Blend Profit with Purpose.” The Foundation harnessed market forces to advance social goals. Rather than find nonprofits serving the area and make grants to them, the Foundation instead purchased a piece of land with an abandoned aerospace factory on it, and developed a commercial enterprise zone that today provides a vibrant economic center for the community. Board members listened and helped give local residents what they said they truly wanted: a bank, restaurant, and grocery store.
How could a Next Gen family member influence a shift in his or her family's philanthropy from the traditional linear model of philanthropy to a catalytic philanthropy approach?
Next Gen members can ask questions of themselves and the foundation board such as: How can we leverage the family's network to advance a policy's goals? How are we using the 95 percent of endowment assets that we keep after the 5 percent payout? Is our investment policy working to advance our philanthropic goals? Most importantly, what cause can we get behind with older generations?
As the book's authors, we don't believe that every single one of the foundation dollars must go toward catalytic philanthropy—but we would like to see a greater percentage of resources allocated toward it.
Evaluating and measuring impact are indicators of success in the linear model of philanthropy. How do you know you're succeeding with a catalytic philanthropy approach?
The way we talk about success is that we need to move beyond a retrospective evaluation mindset. Catalytic donors instead embrace a forward-looking, learning mindset, as encapsulated in “Practice 6: Learn to Create Change.” We found that catalytic donors measure the impact of grants and nongrantmaking activities in a forward-thinking way. They ask, How can we learn from the last period of activity to inform our strategy going forward?
A great example of this practice comes from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation about its Sound Families program. A decade ago, the Foundation had launched a major initiative to give grants and create transitional housing for homeless families in the state of Washington. At the end of the grant period, after building thousands of housing units of housing, Foundation staff thought they were done. And yet, they weren't done. The Foundation achieved impact against the specific grant objective but had failed at the overall outcome of reducing homelessness, as homelessness had increased in the area. So Gates Foundation staff changed their strategy, gearing it to affect the whole outcome of reducing homelessness, not just the specific issue of transitional housing. Now Gates is taking the catalytic approach by making grants and helping all of the players in the system to work together better in the region to effect change.
Catalytic donors demand that they and their grantees are outcome focused.
What surprised you when writing Do More Than Give?
The hardest thing for catalytic donors turned out not to be any one of the “six practices of donors who change the world,” but rather, getting committed to a cause.
Committing to one cause can be particularly difficult for family foundations. As you engage more generations in a family foundation, you naturally increase the complexity of a family foundation's decision-making process. Multiple generations may mean different geography, different politics, different interests, and more. Multiple generations make it harder to be catalytic. Catalytic philanthropy is rare because it's difficult for a combination of generations to be willing to find and commit to one common cause. And yet, it is possible and the book highlights examples of those who we hope can inspire others.
Money Sanity Solutions: Linking Money and Meaning
Nathan Dungan (Share Save Spend, 2010)
Many parents have a difficult time talking with their children about money, either because they don't know how to start, or don't know what to say. Unfortunately, when parents don't want to convey dollar amounts, they neglect to communicate about money-related issues at all and loose the opportunity to teach their children valuable lessons about saving, spending and giving as well. At 21/64, we've seen families who struggle with how to raise charitable children, as they don't want discussions of wealth to corrupt. From our experience, we've learned that discussing money, values around resources, and how you make decisions about how to save, spend and give are critically important.
Because of this, we're recommending Nathan Dungan's Money Sanity Solutions this month and hope you'll find this workbook will provide a platform for family dialogue about pertinent money issues, helping individuals, and youth in particular, create values-oriented plans of action for their money. A self-proclaimed ‘interactive guide,' Money Sanity Solutions comes with a DVD and is organized around important money topics coupled with case studies and exercises that help the reader clarify each topic for themselves. Each chapter has a ‘learning point' and the interactive nature is engaging. The first part of the guide seeks to explore money fundamentals, including understanding one's own ‘money temperament,' distinguishing between needs and wants, and budgeting basics. The second part is organized around different solutions to common money problems, such as peer pressure, consumer conscience, vacations, and saving.
Reviewed by Ben Clark, MPA, 2011 intern at 21/64
Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live
Jeff Jarvis (Simon & Schuster, 2011)
After reading Jeff Jarvis’ What Would Google Do? (HarperBusiness, 2009), we at 21/64 were moved to take a closer look at how technology has impacted our society. We discovered that much of Jarvis’ thinking could be applied to the worlds of philanthropy and nonprofit organizations. In our view, Jeff Jarvis’ latest book, Public Parts, furthers the analysis of the evolving relationship between technology and modern day philanthropy.
21/64 recommends Public Parts as a tool for understanding the blurring of definitions between “public” and “private”. This shift has already shown its effects on different generations’ approach to philanthropy. Previous generations tend to be private about issues of wealth and philanthropy. They demonstrated an ability to compartmentalize their giving efforts from their work and personal lives. Younger generations operate in public, utilizing the multitude of technology and social media outlets available to them. As a result, the current generation’s philanthropic work is often intertwined with all of other components of their life.
Jeff Jarvis argues that the internet has fundamentally altered our conception of "private" and "public." In Public Parts, Jarvis delves into the history of privacy as we know it and explores the ways technology has affected our ideals and contributes to an emerging generational tension regarding privacy. Jarvis promotes the idea of “radical openness" for companies, governments, and individuals in their online personas and interactions.
Public Parts offers suggestions for organizations (for-profit and non-profit alike) to become more transparent and to utilize the power of open online communication to enhance their services, reputations, and customer relations. Jarvis extols the virtues of virtual forums and cyberspaces; he describes the changes that organizations and individuals can implement to take full advantage of the potential offered by a more open online presence. Why should a company adopt a more open online identity, and what steps can it take to achieve this goal? Jarvis argues that we are poised at a new age of interpersonal relations -- the age of sharing -- where publicness is rewarded, and where the traditionally-defined "private" and "closed" attitude is becoming disadvantageous to success.
Reviewed by David Fleit, MPA, 2012 intern at 21/64
Additional articles, books and resources
Topic: Family PhilanthropyTo which cause to give – and how much
Topic: Generational ChangeYounger Generations' Approach to Investing
Topic: Raising Charitable ChildrenFor Grandchildren, the Gift of Financial Awareness
Topic: Strategic PhilanthropyOut of Focus
Topic: Women and PhilanthropyThe New Wealth Paradigm: How Affluent Women are Taking Control of their Futures
"I've been writing all day on family philanthropy for the book and reviewing all of my resources from 21/64 to help jog my brain and inspiring my writing. I just wanted to thank you for all your amazing resources and knowledge... I never cease to be amazed at the quality and amount of support you have shared. It's making such a HUGE difference for me!"
Emily Davis, MNM
"Glenmede, an independent investment and wealth management firm, has had the pleasure of hosting several workshops for our clients during which Sharna spoke about intergenerational issues and values. The audience was engaged for the entire presentation and everyone left with tools to open the discussion with their children and grandchildren about the values that are important to them and the legacy they would like to leave for future generations. We look forward to partnering with 21/64 on future multigenerational event."
Nina Cohen, Glenmede
Philanthropic Advisory Services Group