Give Smart: Philanthropy That Gets Results

Thomas J. Tierney; Joel L. Fleishman
March 2011

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Give Smart photoGiving money away is easy. If you can sign your name at the bottom of a check, or approve the slate of grants at a family foundation board meeting, or accept proposals from aspiring grantees, you can give money away. Giving it away smartly, so that it not only gets results but also gets more and better results over time, is hard.

Despite tremendous innovation in the social sector, philanthropy's natural state is underperformance. In order for donors and foundations to unlock fully the potential of their philanthropy, generosity must be accompanied by a rigorous consideration of what they hope to accomplish: the results that will define success, what it will take to achieve them, and how those results will get better over time.

In Give Smart: Philanthropy that Gets Results, Bridgespan Group cofounder and chairman Thomas J. Tierney and CSPCS faculty chair Joel L. Fleishman pool their knowledge and expertise to creat a much-needed primer for philanthropists and the nonprofit organizations they support. Drawing from personal experiences, research spanning twentieth- and twenty-first-century philanthropy, contemporary interviews, and Bridgespan's extensive fieldwork, Give Smart encourages donors and grant makers to pursue a process of inquiry around six questions:

  • 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?

Taken together, these questions create an approach for donors and nonprofit leaders who want to effect real change.


Give Smart is available in bookstores as well as online in both print and electronic versions. You may purchase a copy at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or IndieBound. If you would like to purchase 25 copies or more at discounted pricing for use at an organization or event, please send your request to


To learn more about Give Smart the book and the Give Smart Initiative, visit

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