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Book Review: Inspired Philanthropy: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Giving Plan

Resource Center - Foundation

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Inspired Philanthropy: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Giving Plan, Second Edition, by Tracy Gary and Melissa Kohner; Jossey-Bass, 2000; paperback, 304 pages; ISBN: 0-7879-6410-7

This book was created especially for those with the desire to make the most of opportunities to donate their time, talent and treasure to the social causes in which they believe. Written with great spirit and energy by two dedicated changemakers who have made such causes their life's work, it is a handbook for donors of all backgrounds and income levels, for those with lots of extra time and money and well as those with only a little. The defining characteristic of the donors in their audience is not wealth, but a wish to leave the world a better place than they found it, and to do so in ways that have a real impact.

The book's title contains its main message: To turn one's giving into a force for change requires inspiration, and an understanding of one's own motivations and goals. It also requires planning and organization, in order to identify and utilize available resources effectively. Individuals, no matter the size of their purse, can act as 'mini-foundations' with a mission statement, giving criteria and measurable objectives to guide their philanthropy.

This volume has two major parts. The first explains how to create a giving plan, starting with a short tour of the world of nonprofits. Through a number of exercises and worksheets, it helps the reader assess their current giving system, clarify their intentions and develop a personal giving plan. The authors cover all forms of giving, including money donations, volunteering and board involvement.

Part Two, 'Strategic and Creative Ways to Leverage Your Giving,' discusses such topics as relationship-building, working with an advisor (for those with larger sums to give), and encouraging the young to give. An extensive appendix includes many more tools, creative giving ideas, and sample letters, plus a lengthy section listing additional sources, books, and websites.

Throughout the book, the reader is reminded of the subtle personal rewards of participating in a worthy cause. Suze Orman, author of 9 Steps to Financial Freedom, captures the philosophy in her Foreword: 'It's really this simple: By giving, you become the receiver of gifts - not the smallest of which is an acquaintance with your own power of choice and your freedom to exercise it for the good.'

About the Authors

Tracy Gary is a philanthropic adviser and nonprofit entrepreneur. She is a founder of more than seventeen nonprofits, including Resourceful Women, The Women Donors Network, Grantmakers Without Borders, and Changemakers. Her current passion is to strengthen community-based philanthropy. She has spoken in forty-eight states and eight countries, promoting social-change giving and strategic generosity.

Melissa Kohner is a leader in today's national young donor movement. She organizes young donors and activists to transform philanthropy by using their resources and action to further social and economic justice. She has engaged with the political and financial concerns of donors of all ages through individual and group consultation and workshops. She is both a fundraiser and a donor, and has served on numerous grantmaking committees.

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