The Givers: Money, Power, and Philanthropy in a New Gilded Age

David Callahan. Knopf, $27.95 (352p) ISBN 978-1-101-94705-0
Callahan (Fortunes of Change), founder of the website Inside Philanthropy, issues a thoughtful call for transparency and oversight in the charity sector. He begins with Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan’s 2015 announcement that they were giving away 99% of their Facebook shares. The accolades were tempered by a backlash, with critics claiming the goal was to avoid taxes and push through a political agenda. Callahan explores the culture of “activist donors,” wealthy individuals with the power and influence to shape society and further their own agendas—a power that is only growing. Most of these individuals are white, but otherwise they make up a broad group with widely varying motivations. Some of their goals are more controversial than others, and the power they wield is becoming less and less democratic. Callahan discusses a range of efforts, both well known (the philanthropist-driven effort to revamp Newark’s public school system) and less so (Women Moving Millions, which supports global gender equality). He ends by telling readers to take a close look at this effective but non-egalitarian system, bolstered with suggestions for reform. This striking, thought-provoking work is perfectly timed as American activists move to confront a new presidential administration. Agent: Andrew Stuart, Stuart Agency. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/06/2017
Release date: 04/11/2017
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