How many reviews, emails and advertisements did you receive over the last couple of months for a new book on philanthropy or social investment? I feel like the number was endless. This summer I read that we should Give Smart. We are supposed to Do More Than Give. Getting involved in giving I was asked to have More Than Good Intentions. The next step is the dive into Giving Well: The ethics of philanthropy. If you are really courageous you will later on do a Leap of Reason: Managing to outcomes in an era of scarcity. These are all great books. They all are going to enrich how we experience and practise philanthropy.
All these books originate in the USA, the cradle of modern-day philanthropy. They are published in English, the lingua franca of philanthropy. This observation made me think. Ironically, when I was sitting in a plane back from North America last week, reading one of the mentioned books, I started to wonder: What books have been published this year in other languages on the issue of philanthropy? What is the one book we should all know about on the issue of philanthropy and social investment in Mandarin, French, Russian, Spanish, Hindi, Portuguese, Arabic or the many other languages out there?
Philanthropy is about bridging borders. It is about sowing creativity and driving societal innovations. The Austrian-English philosopher Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein once said ‘the limits of my language mean the limits of my world’. We should make sure that in the world of giving we overcome these manifold limits. It could be of interest to others that, for instance, in the German discourse books like Michael Göring´s Unternehmen Stiftung (Enterprise Foundation) present the institution ‘foundation’ as the one vehicle of giving that should be enriched with entrepreneurial flavour.
What is the hidden treasure on giving in your language that we should know about? I would like to encourage you to share with the readers of the Latest from Alliance blog the one book in your native tongue on philanthropy or social investment that we should all know about. It does not matter whether it is a recent publication or one that has already travelled with you for a long, long time as a companion in this field. Maybe this way we can bridge the gap again a little bit more in the world of giving. And please, do not hesitate to read all the new publications mentioned above.
Michael Alberg-Seberich is managing partner at Active Philanthropy