Family Philanthropy: Five Must-Read Books on Giving Back

A young woman with a backpack reads a book.

These fascinating reads offer valuable insights into making charitable giving meaningful for you and your loved ones.

According to Giving USA 2020: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2019, people and organizations gave close to $450 billion to charity in 2019, helping a variety of causes big and small. Though the amount is significant, how much do we really know about how charities are impacted? And how are the donors impacted?

The books below approach this intriguing topic from a number of angles, from the role and impact of individual givers to how the next generation of donors is changing the face of philanthropy. These fascinating reads can have a positive influence on how you and your family evaluate giving back.

Consider adding these books to your eReader or home library to gain valuable insight, including how family dynamics can affect the transfer of wealth.



The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change

Author: Adam Braun

Why it’s worth reading: Adam Braun describes how his organization Pencils of Promise built more than 200 schools around the world, which he began after meeting a young boy begging on the streets of India. Braun asked him what he wanted most in the world. “A pencil,” the boy said. That small request inspired Braun to leave a prestigious corporate job to create Pencils of Promise, an education organization he started with just $25. The book chronicles Braun’s journey through more than 50 countries, with each chapter explaining the steps you can take to ignite your own passion and potential.



The Soul of Money: Reclaiming the Wealth of Our Inner Resources

Author: Lynne Twist

Why it’s worth reading: The book shows how examining our attitudes toward money can offer surprising insight into our lives, values, and the essence of prosperity. The global activist author demonstrates how we can exchange feelings of guilt and scarcity with sufficiency, freedom, and purpose. The author shares her journey, including working with Mother Teresa at an orphanage and participating in a deeply moving meeting with the Dalai Lama.





Inspired Philanthropy: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Giving Plan and Leaving a Legacy

Author: Tracy Gary

Why it’s worth reading: How does social change occur? You make it happen. This book shows you how to get started—no matter how little you have to give. It includes practical, step-by-step information on building giving and legacy plans that align with your deepest values, to bring about the changes you want. The newest edition includes a discussion of the Buffett gift to the Gates Foundation.




Generation Impact: How Next Gen Donors Are Revolutionizing Giving

Author: Sharna Goldseker and Michael Moody

Why it’s worth reading: “Generation Impact” offers a rare profile of America’s next generation of rising donors, exploring the motives and approaches that are driving them. It includes fascinating first-person accounts from young philanthropists including Justin Rockefeller, great-great-grandson of American oil industry business magnate John D. Rockefeller; and Victoria Rogers, whose father John Rogers Jr. became one of the most successful and philanthropic African Americans in the United States.




Impact Investing: Transforming How We Make Money While Making a Difference

Author: Antony Bugg-Levine and Jed Emerson

Why it’s worth reading: This groundbreaking book on the transformative power of impact investing defines this emerging industry for participants on all sides of the funding equation, including investors, funders, and social entrepreneurs. Through illustrative examples of success stories, the authors explain how this new industry can be a positive, disruptive force that can help to address today’s most critical issues.