Lancfound Blog

Summer reading for the philanthropist!

Summer is almost here, so here are some of our favorite reads about philanthropy – from memoirs, to reference, to how to books.  Don’t worry, no book reports are due, but we would love to know what you think! We asked our staff, grantee partners, and members of our community to recommend some of their favorite and most inspiring titles. Let us know your favorites and feel free to send us a recommendation!


“It is a game-changer when it comes to how donors view charitable giving and evaluate the value and impact of charitable organizations.”   – Sam Bressi


“When I first read Toxic Charity, which offers a critical look at the unintended negative effects of modern charity, it provided me with language, statistics, and stories to back up what had previously been an intrinsic feeling of unease related to the blind spots in the work of non-profits and NGOs.” – Jonathan Coleman


“This book was really helpful to get me to understand how foundations can be effective in our work, by being the catalyst through which movements spread rapidly.”  –  Dave Koser


An inspiring read full of concise, actionable ideas for making a difference in your community. More of a handbook, its focus is not on wealth, but how each of us can use the tools already possessed (hidden assets) to create change. The best part is that most of the ideas can be accomplished in a few hours or less. “There are hundreds of ways to slip small but deeply meaningful acts of philanthropy into your life.”  –  Kim Shorter



In the first half of our lives, we are working to support our families and kids. But then often, around 45 to 55 years old, we are second guessing ourselves a little and asking, “Wait, isn’t there more? Isn’t there something bigger then me? I want to be significant! I want to leave a mark on the world. I want to leave the world a little bit better.” That is when you are likely to go from “success” to “significance”. But what does it look like and how do you attain it? This book helps navigate the opportunities that help you achieve “significance”.    –  Mary Kohler


Here’s a couple articles recommended by Ashlinn Masland-Sarani:


Shifting Philanthropy from Charity to Justice. It makes giving (and granting) beautifully complicated by suggesting questions to help philanthropists consider how their giving can be a force for societal change.

The Art of Love in Philanthropy. Short read about how philanthropy, at its best, can establish relationships of respect and mutuality.



“Typical of any almanac, this doesn’t read like a novel, but more like a reference book.  Included are stories of significant philanthropists (Andrew Carnegie, Benjamin Franklin, John Walton . . . ), major achievements of philanthropy, and even some statistics and timelines.  Great summary and potential launching off point for areas that pique your interest.” – Jessica Mailhot


The riveting New York Times bestseller about a young man who built more than 250 schools around the world—and the steps anyone can take to lead a successful and significant life.

Here are some Amazon reviews:

“For anyone with a big dream to transform the world, this book will show you how to get it done.” (Sir Richard Branson)
“A compelling and singular story filled with universal truths everyone needs to hear.” (United States Senator Cory Booker)
“A remarkably inspiring story that shares the essential lessons to creating a life of meaning, passion and purpose.” (Deepak Chopra, Founder of The Chopra Foundation)


The true story of the relationship between a dangerous, homeless drifter and an upscale art dealer and his gutsy wife.  This book was made into a movie and was previewed by Water Street Rescue!

From an Amazon review:

My emotional journey through the reading of Same Kind of Different as Me has been a truly moving experience. This book taught me to be grateful for what I have and to never think twice about helping others. The story of Ron Hall and Denver Moore takes a new look into the mind of a homeless man who’s spiritually filled and a wealthy entrepreneur who is struggling with spiritual strength through his wife’s illness. The book is moving, engaging, and it overall forces the reader to really think about if they’ve served others with the love of Christ as much as they can.


Meet the next generation of big donors—the Gen X and Millennial philanthropists who will be the most significant donors ever and will shape our world in profound ways. Hear them describe their ambitious plans to revolutionize giving so it achieves greater impact. And learn how to help them succeed in a world that needs smart, effective donors now more than ever.

From an Amazon review:

“Philanthropy is changing, and with it, the world. Generation Impact demonstrates, with data and vivid personal stories, that Gen Xers and Millennials are aligning their values, their giving, and their lives. This is a must-read book for anyone concerned with the future of philanthropy.”
—Peter Singer, Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics, Princeton University; Author, The Life You Can Save and The Most Good You Can Do