Money Well Spent (2nd Edition) Forum

Introducing HistPhil’s Forum on MONEY WELL SPENT

Editors’ Note: HistPhil co-editor Maribel Morey introduces HistPhil‘s forum on the second edition of Paul Brest and Hal Harvey’s Money Well Spent (2018), published earlier this summer. With this new edition, Morey reasons that it is “a great moment to engage critically and historically with the book, both as a cultural artifact in the practice of philanthropy and as a symbol of contemporary intellectual trends in the field.”

Ten years ago, then-Hewlett Foundation President Paul Brest and former director of Hewlett’s Environment Program Hal Harvey published Money Well Spent: A Strategic Plan for Smart Philanthropy (2008). Celebrating the book in the Stanford Social Innovation Review the following spring, former Ford Foundation president and then philanthropy consultant for the New York Community Trust Susan Berresford described it as “an outstanding example of the strategic giving genre.” In this way, Berresford related that the two authors “walk the reader through the importance of donors having clear problem-solving goals, sound strategy, and clarity about risk tolerance.”

With a second edition to Money Well Spent having come out this summer, we at HistPhil thought that it was now a great moment to engage critically and historically with the book, both as a cultural artifact in the practice of philanthropy and as a symbol of contemporary intellectual trends in the field. Contributing to this forum, David C. Hammack, Tiffany Willoughby-Herard, Lily Geismer, Erica Kohl-Arenas, and I have taken distinct historical lenses to the text.

Both Hammack and Geismer place the two editions of Money Well Spent, from 2008 to 2018, within shifting intellectual currents in philanthropy and the broader lens of U.S. intellectual, political, and economic life. Looking more specifically to key terms in Money Well Spent such as “social problems,” “social change,” and “generalizability,” Willoughby-Herard, Kohl-Arenas, and I furthermore explain how historical perspectives on these central terms in the book could have enriched the text, and in the process, the authors’ policy recommendations to philanthropists.

However, before engaging critically and historically with this second edition of Money Well Spent, this forum begins with a contribution from the book’s two authors, Paul Brest and Hal Harvey. In this first post, the authors reflect on developing intellectual movements among philanthropists and philanthropic organizations since their book’s first publication in 2008; and with the publication of a second edition earlier this summer, they share their hopes for the future of philanthropy.

-Maribel Morey

Maribel Morey is the co-editor of HistPhil and an Assistant Professor of History at Clemson University.

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