Here’s part two of my interview with Joanna Krotz, a wonderful writer I know, whose book The Guide to Intelligent Giving (Sterling/Hearst Books, 2009) was recently released. It’s not just about our country’s interest in charitable giving (yes, even in a shaky economy) but also delves into giving smart. Krotz draws on her extensive research and experience in covering women, wealth, giving and business to map today’s changing terrain in philanthropy and the nonprofit sector. She also is a knowledgeable forecaster and reporter for the new breed of donors and current trends in philanthropy, notably for Town & Country, where she is a contributing editor. I thought it would be interesting to see how she’s promoting the book and demonstrate to those in the development world how one can talk about this issue in interesting and compelling ways. Here we go . . .
What are some common misconceptions about philanthropy?
That giving is only something rich people do and that you have to have a lot of money to make a difference. Both are false. For instance, in 1995, at the age of 87, a woman named Oseola McCarty, a laundress in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, donated $150,000—the bulk of her life savings—to a scholarship fund for black students at the University of Southern Mississippi. McCarty had left school at the age of 8 and never got an education. Her legacy, the Oseola McCarty Scholarship Fund, is going strong today.
Why shouldn’t people just write a check to a charity my friend supports?
Acts of kindness can be done in a day, but community building is the work of a lifetime, as one foundation director put it. Charity is usually something you do on impulse. But philanthropy is more strategic—it starts with a plan. And if you give only because a friend or relative asks you to do so, you have no emotional investment. It’s unlikely that you’ll stick with it.
Are there some other ways people can give besides donating money?
There are dozens of choices besides cash. You can volunteer time, donate professional services, give your car or your house or your life insurance policy or your antique chair or stock. Any planned giving officer at the local community foundation in your city or region can help you sort through the options and tax issues.
What are the advantages of a giving circle?
Giving circles are the fastest-growing grassroots giving phenomenon in the country and have raised about $100 million in communities nationwide in the past decade. They’re peer-to-peer, very egalitarian and help people find like-minded neighbors who want to be involved. They’re also very freeform. Set your own rules. Decide your own agenda. And that’s it. To learn more, visit givingforum.org.
How can people find out more about your book?