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Give Smart Philanthropy That Gets Results
Thomas J. Tierney and Joel L. Fleishman

March, 2011

Give Smart

Philanthropy That Gets Results


by Thomas J. Tierney


Joel L. Fleishman


Publication Date: March 29, 2011

$23.99; 272 pages; ISBN 978-1-58648-895-6


Just released, a new, “must-read” book about philanthropy, “among the very best in donor-education literature,”* about how to make the most of what you have to give


Give Smart is a great gift to the world. By asking questions—the right questions—Tierney and Fleishman guide, advise, challenge, and, as with all great teachers, push us to find our own best answers. If you want your philanthropy to be useful—changing lives, solving intractable problems, making society work better—then engage deeply with this book!”                                                                                      

 Jim Collins, author of Good to Great and the Social Sectors 


“This is a book that, though concise and very accessibly written, embraces the nuance and complexity of philanthropy, seeking to explain it—and doing so very well—rather than to deny it. It is an absolute must-read….  Mr. Tierney and Mr. Fleishman are particularly eloquent—and their message especially important for new major donors—when it comes to how to work effectively with grantees. Unlike others writing about philanthropy who have caricatured staffs of charities as Birkenstock-wearing idealists lacking in management skills, Mr. Tierney and Mr. Fleishman urge philanthropists to treat those on the front lines with the respect they deserve…. This book is among the very best I have seen in an emerging genre of donor-education literature.”     

Phil BuchanAn, president, Center for Effective Philanthropy in the Chronicle of Philanthropy*


“An interesting and well-considered guide to go to before you give.”                                                   

Publishers Weekly


“Credible books that encourage potential donors to step out of their external and internal pressure cookers, and into serious thinking, are indeed important and useful. Tierney and Fleishman have written such a book… Powerful. Tierney and Fleishman speak directly and clearly with both respect and candor.”

Melissa Berman, president, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors in Stanford Social Innovation Review



New York. March 29, 2011--Philanthropy represents an opportunity to make an unprecedented impact in our world; Americans donated approximately $300 billion in 2010, and in the first half of the twenty-first century giving to family and community foundations alone will be ten times in today’s dollars what it was throughout the entire twentieth century. More than 50 billionaires have joined Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates’ Giving Pledge to donate half their fortunes, commitments that are estimated to total over $600 billion. We are poised at the brink of a historic wealth transfer. And the giving is more than financial—service programs like Teach for America and City Year are rapidly becoming premier choices for America’s top college graduates while more and more trailing boomers are opting for “encore careers,” postponing retirement to pursue work that creates social impact.

But tremendous innovation in the social sector and the best of intentions are not enough—because of its very nature, philanthropy regularly underperforms. How do you ensure these generous gifts of time and money are as effective as they can be? Almost a decade ago, Thomas J. Tierney began tackling these and other tough questions on how to strengthen the social sector when he left Bain & Company to co-found the Bridgespan Group, a nonprofit focused on helping donors and nonprofits to maximize their impact. Over the past 10 years it has advised “both sides of the grant”—philanthropists, leading foundations and hundreds of nonprofits from Peter and Jennifer Buffett’s NoVo foundation to the Harlem Children’s Zone—on how to work together in achieving the changes they envision in the world. Now, in Give Smart, Tierney distills ten years of Bridgespan’s experience, knowledge, and case studies with philanthropy expert Joel L. Fleishman’s research and insights to create a much-needed primer for philanthropists and the nonprofit organizations they support.

Philanthropy is personal and situational and there is no magic formula for one’s philanthropic work; the path to results is through wrestling with the right questions at the right time. Give Smart asks six challenging, thought-provoking questions to guide donors through the process of determining personally fulfilling philanthropic pursuits designed to achieve results—from the first moments of excitement and possibility to clarifying goals and the concrete steps needed to achieve them; and from finding and working with the right partner organizations to analyzing results.

A how-to-do-it Gospel of Wealth for 21st century philanthropists, Give Smart presents the definitive guide for engaged donors and nonprofit leaders to achieve real, lasting change in the world.


Tierney and Fleishman ask:


What are my values and beliefs?

What is “success” and how can it be achieved?

What am I accountable for?

What will it take to get the job done?

How do I work with grantees?

Am I getting better?


The Bridgespan Group will launch a new website next month——to coincide with the publication of the book. The website is intended to help donors make better decisions and get better results from their philanthropy. The site collects and shares effective practices, including case studies, practical guides, and other decision-making tools. Materials will be contributed by Bridgespan, informed by its client work over the last ten years, as well as by outstanding leaders in the field including the Center for Effective Philanthropy, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, the Philanthropy Roundtable and The Philanthropic Initiative.



Further praise for Give Smart


“Giving away money is easy, but making a real difference is hard work. Give Smart addresses these challenges head-on and provides a strong analytic framework and practical advice for effective philanthropy—replete with compelling examples. Written by two leaders in the field, this is a must-read for the new philanthropist and a valuable resource for old hands as well.”

Paul Brest, president, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and co-author of Money Well Spent: A Strategic Plan for Smart Philanthropy


Give Smart is must reading for all philanthropists, large or small. It’s written by two people with long experience, and it will make your gifts go farther.” 

John C. Whitehead, former chairman of Goldman Sachs and former deputy secretary of state


 “As Pam and I continue to learn through our own giving, the challenges in creating positive social impact are many and complex. Give Smart provides thoughtful guidance on how to build an effective and personal approach to philanthropy, illustrated through real-world examples, proven methodologies, and insightful commentary. We highly recommend Give Smart to anyone who wants to make a difference, whether in their local community or around the world.”                

Pierre Omidyar, founder and chairman, eBay; founding partner, Omidyar Network


“Having been on ‘both sides of the check,’ first working in philanthropy and now as a recipient of philanthropic dollars, I found Give Smart a must read. The relationship between grantmakers and nonprofit organizations is a delicate dance, one that—when done well—can achieve incredible social good. Not only does this book provide a practical guide for those who want to achieve high impact philanthropy, it also helps nonprofits understand the aspirations and expectations of the donor. Don’t begin, or continue, your philanthropy without reading it.”

Helene Gayle, president and CEO of CARE and former Director of HIV programs for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation


“One of the most exciting and important parts of my job as a philanthropist is learning. Over the years, Bill and I have learned so much from the authors of this book, and we are thrilled to see that wisdom collected in Give Smart so that everybody can benefit from it the way we have.”

Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation



Thomas J. Tierney is the cofounder and chairman of The Bridgespan Group, a nonprofit consulting firm serving the nonprofit sector and its founders. Prior to founding Bridgespan, Mr. Tierney served as managing partner worldwide of Bain & Company from June 1992 to January 2000.


Joel L. Fleishman is professor of law and public policy at Duke University and the author of The Foundation. He has served as president of the Atlantic Philanthropic Service Company, the U.S. affiliate of Atlantic Philanthropies.


For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact Tessa Shanks, Publicity Manager,

at 917-849-6015 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              917-849-6015      end_of_the_skype_highlighting or


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