The glut of philanthropy books a bad omen?

A sure sign of a bubble is when ‘everyone is doing it’ – and that certainly seems to apply to philanthropy books. In the past two years, we’ve had Giving by Bill Clinton, Inspired Philanthropy, Richistan, What Your Money Means, The New Elite, Beyond Success, Forces for Good, The Foundation, The Billionaire Who Wasn’t, The Power of Unreasonable People, How to Change the World, Leaving Microsoft to Change the World, Creating a World Without Poverty, and just this autumn the very unfortunately named Philanthrocapitalism and Money Well Spent, with Be the Change still on its way. And that’s just the books – a number of society philanthropy magazines have launched (eg Contribute, Benefit and Generocity). [And some have already folded – see Lucy Bernholz on p36.] Over the next few years, analysts and pundits will be looking back and telling us all about the warning signs of the market collapse we’re currently living through. One wonders if any of them will comment on the glut of philanthropy books hitting shelves as a sign that the good times were coming to an end – and the promised new golden age of philanthropy was just burnished bronze.

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