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The Essence of Strategic Giving

A Practical Guide for Donors and Fundraisers

In the face of global financial problems and stressed government budgets, the ability of private philanthropy to step in and help solve public problems—and support vital private institutions as well—has perhaps never been more important. But how can donors be sure their contributions will be effective? And how can fundraisers make their case for support in a way that is compelling and productive?

With The Essence of Strategic Giving, Peter Frumkin distills the lessons of his comprehensive, award-winning study, Strategic Giving, into a concise, practical guide for everyone involved in private philanthropy, from donors to managers of nonprofits to fund-raisers. He defines five critical challenges that all donors must address if their philanthropy is to amount to more than indiscriminate charity, including being aware of the time frame that guides a gift, specifying the intended impact being pursued, and  recognizing how a donation fits with a donor’s own identity and style. Acknowledging and understanding these fundamental, strategic aspects of giving, Frumkin argues, will help ensure philanthropy that more effectively achieves its aims—and at the same time builds a lasting relationship between donors and the institutions they support.

As the next generation of donors wrestle with the challenge of effectively distributing what Andrew Carnegie called “surplus wealth,” Frumkin’s road map will be an indispensible resource for years to come.

192 pages | 11 line drawings | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2006, 2010

Economics and Business: Business--Business Economics and Management Studies, Economics--Development, Growth, Planning


“Peter Frumkin has long been one of our leading big picture thinkers in the world of philanthropy. In this terrific short book, Frumkin marries his vision of great philanthropy—strategic giving—with myriad real-world case studies. It is Frumkin at his best: pushing our thinking forward and speaking to donors of all kinds, individual and institutional, large and small. If you want to give money away wisely, read this wise book.”

Rob Reich, faculty co-director, Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, Stanford University

“Peter Frumkin has done a great service to many would-be philanthropists by distilling the concepts he offered in Strategic Giving into a concise guide for action.”

Christine Letts, Harvard University

“Frumkin kept the protein and chucked the carbs from Strategic Giving. The result is a slimmed-down hunk of philanthropic wisdom. No question: In this case less is more and better.”

Edward Skloot, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University

Table of Contents


1. The Idea of Strategic Giving

2. Dimensions of Philanthropic Value

3. Logic Models: Theories of Change, Leverage, and Scale

4. Giving Styles

5. Time Frames

6. Institutions and Vehicles

7. Toward Strategic Giving


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