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Money Well Spent: A Strategic Plan for Smart Philanthropy

ISBN: 978-1-57660-312-3
304 pages
November 2008
Money Well Spent: A Strategic Plan for Smart Philanthropy (1576603121) cover image


Winner of the 2009 Skystone Ryan Prize for Research, Association of Fundraising Professionals Research Council

“All outstanding philanthropic successes have one thing in common: They started with a smart strategic plan,” say authors Paul Brest, president of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and Hal Harvey, president of ClimateWorks.  

Money Well Spent explains how to create and implement a strategy that ensures meaningful results.  Components of a smart strategy include:
  • Achieving great clarity about one’s philanthropic goals
  • Specifying indicators of success before beginning a project
  • Designing and implementing a plan commensurate with available resources
  • Evidence-based understanding of the world in which the plan will operate
  • Paying careful attention to milestones to determine if you are on the path to success or if midcourse corrections are necessary

Drawing on examples from over 100 foundations and non-profits, Money Well Spent gives readers the framework they need to design a smart strategy, addressing such key issues as:

  • Effective use of tools—education, science, direct services, advocacy—that can achieve your objectives.
  • How to choose the forms of funding to achieve stated goals
  • How to measure the impact of grants or programs
  • When to be patient and stick with a winning strategy and when to abandon a strategy that isn’t working

This is a book for everyone who wants to get the most from a philanthropic dollar: donors, foundations, and non-profits.

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Table of Contents


Part  I The Framework of Strategic Philanthropy.  
1 The Promise of Strategic Philanthropy.
2 Choices in Philanthropic Goals, Strategies, and Styles.
3 Analyzing Problems and Developing Solutions.
4 Solving Problems Through Program Strategies.
5 Grantmaking and Due Diligence.
6 Beyond Grantmaking.
7 Forms of Grant Funding.  
8 Mission Investments: Investing for Social Impact.  
9 Assessing Progress and Evaluating Impact.
10  Impact on Steroids: Measuring the Social Return on Your Philanthropic Investment.    

Part  II Tools of the Trade.  
11 Promoting Knowledge.
12 Providing Goods and Services.
13 Influencing Individuals, Policy Makers, and Businesses.
14 Building Fields and Movements.  

Part  III Organizing Your Resources for Strategic Philanthropy.  
15 Choosing the Right Structure for Your Philanthropy .
16 Principal and Principle: Foundation Spending Policies.

Afterword: The Challenges of Strategic Philanthropy.  
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Author Information

Paul Brest is the president of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Before joining the Hewlett Foundation, he was a professor at Stanford Law School, serving as dean from 1987 to 1999. He teaches a course on judgment and decision-making in the Public Policy Program at Stanford University and is coauthor of the forthcoming book Problem Solving, Decision Making, and Professional Judgment.

Hal Harvey, a former director of The Hewlett Foundation’s Environment Program, is now the president of ClimateWorks. He is also the president of the New-Land Foundation and has held positions at several different not-for-profit foundations, including the Mertz-Gilmore Foundation, the Heinz Endowments, and the Ploughshares Fund. He served on the energy panel of the President’s Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology and chairs the MB Financial Corporation in Chicago.
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“An invaluable resource that distills the essence of strategic philanthropy for those seeking to achieve a greater social impact.”
—Bill Gates
Co-chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation    

“In philanthropy, as in investing, you need a solid strategy to understand what works, what fails, and why. Money Well Spent provides the tools philanthropists need to create an effective strategy and achieve success.”
—George Soros  

Money Well Spent is far and away the best ‘handbook plus’ for those who believe that philanthropic dollars are a sacred trust. No other authors have produced so readable, sensible, and balanced a guide to the practice of strategy in solving real-world problems, informed by solid theory and illuminated by easy-to-understand examples.”
—Joel L. Fleishman
Author, The Foundation: A Great American Secret
Professor of Law and Public Policy Sciences, Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy, Duke University  

“This is an ever-so-practical and yet ever-so-thoughtful contribution to our understanding of how philanthropy should work.”
—William G. Bowen
Former President, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Princeton University  

Money Well Spent is critical reading for anyone who wants to ensure that philanthropy is having a real and lasting impact on the most urgent challenges facing our world.”
—Luis Ubiñas
President, Ford Foundation  

“For donors who want to think clearly about how to achieve their charitable objectives, reading this excellent guide to philanthropic strategy will be time well spent.” 
—Adam Meyerson
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