The OAF Blog

Putting Wealth to Work - A good read

February 22, 2019

Putting Wealth to Work: Philanthropy for Today or Investing for Tomorrow?
by Joel L. Fleischman. PublicAffairs. New York, New York, 2017
ISBN: 9781610395335

The Philanthropist, a good Canadian journal on philanthropy, recently issued a book review on a book that is worth reading – Putting Wealth to Work: Philanthropy for Today or Investing for Tomorrow? by Joel Fleischmann.

The book provides a good perspective on the merits (and weaknesses) of perpetual endowment foundations and short term or ‘time limited / spend down’ foundations. It shares a balanced perspective on both approaches.

Perpetual Foundations
The author suggests that a benefit of perpetual foundations is that very large social issues and challenges cannot be effectively addressed within a single lifetime. Learning and applying philanthropy can grow and improve over generations.

Giving While Living
The contrast is with a younger generation perspective of ‘giving while living’ – seeking to accomplish goals within a short time frame. This is in part reflects significant growth of personal wealth and change in profile to ‘younger’ philanthropists, often emerging from the technology sector.

The book covers effectively key trends in philanthropy – from a US perspective, but the themes are applicable to Canada. It includes an interesting discussion on the role of foundations in taking positions and seeking to influence public policy decisions, something we are seeing here in Canada. Mr. Fleischmann describes well the desires and considerations of donors who wish to ‘give while living’ – foundations having a fixed life, along with the importance over time of longer perspective.

Ontario Arts Foundation
The Ontario Arts Foundation falls into the latter category, we aim to grow endowment assets to provide a long term, stable and increasing source of income for arts organizations. Over time, we continue to learn about endowment and the drivers/motivations of donors.

We recommend both the publication The Philanthropist and the book.

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