Philanthropy has grown over the past few years and is currently booming. It’s even down to a more social level, where people will do Facebook fundraisers on their birthdays. It’s great that people want to support the less fortunate, but learning the history of philanthropy is still incredibly important. In order to help the less knowledgeable out, I’ve comprised a list of great books to read if you’re interested in learning more about philanthropy. 

Banker To The Poor: Micro-Lending and The Battle Against Global Poverty – Muhammad Yunus

Muhammad Yunus (known as the maestro of microcredit) – was a professor who realized that the most impoverished members of this community were systematically neglected by the banking system. Since nobody would lend them any money, Yunus decided to think of a new form of banking. He called it microcredit, and it would offer very small loans to the poorest people. The best part is that they wouldn’t need collateral, and they’d also teach them how to manage and use their loans to create successful small businesses. This book is the definitive history of micro-credit, direct from the hand of the man who thought of it. 

Uncharitable: How Restraints on Nonprofits Undermine Their Potential – Dan Pallotta

Author Dan Pallotta is of the mind that the way that society and government treat nonprofits has hurt their ability to solve major world problems.  This allows Uncharitable to go where no other book on the nonprofit sector has gone before. Pallotta seems to have an obsession with low overhead, and by ranking charities on how little they spend on their operations, charities are undercutting their ability to do the work. Overhead, in this case, means professional development and salaries as well as benefits for the staff, new equipment, and other things.

Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa – Dambisa Moyo

This book provides an interesting take; that aid to Africa has hurt the continent more than it has helped. As a national bestseller, Moyo offers a new road map for financing development of the world’s poorest countries and debunks the current model of international aid promoted by celebrities and policymakers. While it may seem unsettling at times, it’s a rather optimistic piece of reading material and is a great way to get a different perspective on the subject. 

Twenty Years At Hull House – Jane Addams

This book is the perfect way to introduce students to one of America’s most famous women and an early leader of the Progressive Movement. The original text has been reduced by about 35 percent, but is now more accessible to undergraduates and still maintains the integrity of the original work. The introduction provides a biographical sketch of Addams, while also outlining the decisions that led her to found Hull-House. 

Philanthropy is an ever growing subject, and there’s always so much to learn and read about. Whether you’re new to philanthropy and want to research history, or you’re an experienced philanthropist who is looking for inspiration, there’s likely to be at least one book out there for you.