Best Reads for Good Deeds

This edition’s literary recommendations are all about giving back – from the wise words of Roman stoic philosopher Seneca to Beth Breeze’s contemporary and deeply impassioned defence of philanthropy to Rowan Hooper’s ambitious call-to-arms to try to solve global problems, these five books are a bona fide tool kit for doing good in the world…


1. Solving the Giving Pledge Bottleneck by Sean Davis

This book highlights the historic inflection point we are in, both in terms of philanthropy in general, and specifically in financing the solutions to our largest and most urgent social and environmental problems. The book provides a step-by-step guide on how philanthropic approaches like The Giving Pledge can actually solve the challenges societies around the world are facing that have been seemingly hopeless.

Solving the Giving Pledge Bottleneck


2. How to Give: An Ancient Guide to Giving and Receiving by Seneca (translated by James S. Romm)

For Seneca, the impulse to give to others lies at the very foundation of society; without it, we are helpless creatures, worse than wild beasts. But generosity did not arise randomly or by chance. Seneca sees it as part of our desire to emulate the gods, whose creation of the earth and heavens stands as the greatest gift of all. Seneca’s soaring prose captures his wonder at that gift, and expresses a profound sense of gratitude that will inspire today’s readers.

How to Give: An Ancient Guide to Giving and Receiving


3. Giving Back: How to Do Good, Better by Derek A. Bardowell

During a period when British society seems more divided than ever, and our decision makers are even more disconnected from the issues that keep us awake at night, Giving Back highlights the people and movements taking on some of the most challenging social issues of our time. A respected figure in philanthropy, Derek A. Bardowell presents a unique insight into what’s going on inside the world of giving and where we can best make a difference.

Giving Back: How to Do Good, Better


4. How to Spend a Trillion Dollars: The 10 Global Problems We Can Actually Fix by Rowan Hooper

If you had a trillion dollars and a year to spend it for the good of the world and the advancement of science, what would you do? It’s a much smaller sum than the world found to bail out its banks in 2008 or deal with Covid-19. But what could you achieve with $1 trillion? How to Spend a Trillion Dollars is the ultimate thought experiment but it is also a call to arms: these are all things we could do, if we put our minds to it – and our money.

How to Spend a Trillion Dollars


5. In Defence of Philanthropy by Beth Breeze

In an impassioned defence of the role of philanthropy in society, Beth Breeze tackles the main critiques levelled at philanthropy and questions the rationale for undermining and disparaging philanthropic acts. She contends that although it might be flawed, philanthropy is a sector that ought to be celebrated and championed so that an abundance of causes and interests
can flourish.

In Defence of Philanthropy

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