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In Defence of Philanthropy


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Table of Contents

Introduction: the need for a defence of philanthropy1. What is philanthropy?2. Is philanthropy really under attack?3. The academic critique4. The insider critique5. The populist critique6. Why do attacks on philanthropy stick and what can be done about it?Conclusion: in praise of philanthropy

About the Author

Beth Breeze OBE is Director of the Centre for Philanthropy and Reader in Social Policy at the University of Kent. She began her career as a fundraiser for a youth homelessness charity, and spent a decade working in a variety of fundraising, research and charity management roles, including as deputy director at the Institute for Philanthropy. She is the author of The New Fundraisers: Who Organises Charitable Giving in Contemporary Society? (2017).


A masterly takedown ... a badly needed rebuttal to the rising chorus of denunciations directed at high-profile donors.
*Wall Street Journal*

A powerful counterpoint ... while philanthropy is improvable, it is not illegitimate.
*Financial Times*

Articulate and meticulously researched… Everyone should read this book – not just those who work in the philanthropic sector. University programs that teach courses in philanthropy, including business schools concerned with social impact, should assign this book and allow students to examine the critiques of philanthropy in detail and to come to their own conclusions.
*Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly*

What strikes most is the clever usage of anecdotal evidence to illustrate the well-grounded empirical data. The examples are bright and close to life … recommended as both interesting, sometimes even entertaining, and crucially—useful—to a variety of readers, from researchers to key stakeholders of philanthropy.

This is a book that condenses a great deal of scholarship as well as the author's own considerable research … It deserves to be cited by researchers and should be recommended as essential reading for anyone who wishes to seriously understand philanthropy or fundraising.
*Third Sector Review*

A welcome addition to the discussion around philanthropy in society… a nice overview of the literature for researchers, faculty, and students… provides a nuanced view that engages with the criticisms and offers rebuttals.
*The Foundation Review*

Offers what has been lacking in much of the discourse thus far – a balance between ‘repetitive carping and mindless cheerleading’ ... could, and should, provide the stimulus for serious public debate around the appropriate roles of philanthropy in a democracy.

Exceptional... Breeze communicates scholarly work, statistics, and history with ease. She situates each critique of philanthropy within its historical context, tracing the roots in order to provide a nuanced, often witty, response.
*Washington Examiner*

Beth Breeze’s book could not be more timely. In the face of often crude attacks, it is a passionate, beautifully researched and thoughtful defence of philanthropy. This is an erudite, fascinating book. But it is more than that. It is a book that will lead to better philanthropy – and a book that will help civil society flourish. Essential reading for anyone interested in the charitable sector.
*Paul Ramsbottom OBE, Chief Executive, Wolfson Foundation*

Superbly scholarly yet intensely readable.
*Bob Reid, President and Chief Executive, Edge Philanthropy*

Beth Breeze combines expert knowledge of the social scientific work on charitable giving with extensive personal knowledge of philanthropy and philanthropists. In accessible and engaging prose, she offers a conclusive response to the increasingly loud and unjustified attacks on philanthropy. It is unfortunate that philanthropy requires a defence, but thankfully this book more than meets the challenge.
*Christopher Einolf, Director, Center for Nonprofit and NGO Studies, Northern Illinois University*

In Defence of Philanthropy is a deeply researched, acerbically (and brilliantly) written, and totally convincing refutation of the overly generalized, shallow, ahistorical, unhelpful, and counter-productive critiques of philanthropy that, while hardly new, have surged into fashion in recent years. The timing is perfect, as we emerge from years of simplistic cheap-shots about philanthropy and rebuild from a global pandemic, when we’ll desperately need givers to step up. Beth Breeze reminds us of the simple truth that giving matters – and that we should encourage it. With evidence, logic, and powerful examples, she shows us the good that effective philanthropy does in supporting organizations doing vital work, the ways it has improved both individual lives and free societies, and its vital role relative to business and government. Philanthropy, like all good things, can be mis-used or done poorly, but Breeze reminds us powerfully of our collective interest in encouraging, and not cynically demeaning, the deeply human impulse to help others.
*Phil Buchanan, President, Center for Effective Philanthropy, and author of Giving Done Right*

Whatever your initial views on philanthropy, this is an important book in challenging many of the prevailing negative perceptions.
*Philippa Charles, Director, Garfield Weston Foundation*

A bold defense of philanthropy that would be of interest to a general audience and particularly to philanthropists and fundraisers.
*Angela M Eikenberry, Affilia*

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