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4 Books About Giving to Read While You’re Staying at Home

April 06, 2020

Many states and countries are advising their citizens to stay at home during the COVID-19 pandemic to help flatten the curve. While we may have considerable work, caretaking, and other responsibilities, we are also finding ourselves looking for new ways to spend our free time. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of 4 books about giving to read as we each do our part to physically distance.

Resources like bookshop.org allow you to find independent bookstores to order from, many of which are suffering during this crisis. You can also find many of these as audiobooks or eBooks, from your local library or for purchase online.

Giving Done Right: Effective Philanthropy and Making Every Dollar Count by Phil Buchanan

Buchananan begins this book by recalling the many conversations he’s had with people who simply want assurance that their philanthropy is making a meaningful difference in the world. Inspired by these conversations, Buchanan sets out to write a book for givers at all levels with similar concerns. Not only does this book offer research-backed practices that make for effective philanthropy, it also provides a compelling overview of both the US nonprofit sector and our national giving landscape.

Decolonizing Wealth: Indigenous Wisdom to Heal Divides and Restore Balance by Edgar Villanueva

Recently, there have been lots of conversations about the changes we’d like to see once the threat of COVID-19 has passed, especially in American democracy and life. Philanthropy and wealth are integral to how our government and society function. In his first book, Edgar Villanueva imagines new possibilities for the field of philanthropy. In his own words, “...other choices are available, even when they seem far-fetched. We know what spaces and organizations look like, feel like, and function like when they are inspired by the colonizers’ principles of separation, competition and exploitation. How would they be different if they were based on principles like integration and interdependence, reciprocity and relationship?”

Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World by Melinda Gates

This winter, the Amplifier x Jewish Teen Funders Network book club read Melinda Gates’ new book. Gates takes the reader through her intersecting personal, professional, and philanthropic journeys, and how she came to see women’s empowerment as an essential measure for combating global poverty and improving quality of life for everyone, everywhere. If you’ve been intrigued by recent articles about the gendered impacts of COVID-19, you’ll resonate with the first-hand stories Gates shares about gender-based violence, child marriage, education inequality, and cycles of poverty, and some of the solutions she discusses that help alleviate these challenges.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

So yes, this is a children's book. However, many people have more time to read to children than ever before—including virtually! Even if you don’t live with young children, you can consider reading to your nieces, nephews, family friends or any other children in your life. While Shel Silverstein’s classic book may not be your classic philanthropy text, it does raise thought-provoking questions about how we can take care of each other and ourselves, both with our actions and with our resources.