Gitelson (Multilateral Aid for National Development and Self-Reliance, 1975) draws upon her extensive background working with various international organizations to create an accessible, encyclopedic reference volume for average citizens interested in contributing to the greater good.
Straightforward prose, a handy table of contents, and worthwhile statistics and examples will help potential donors realize that no contribution is too small and that any amount of giving can bring happiness to the lives of all involved. The book is broken down into numerous categories, ranging from an examination of celebrities’ charitable giving to an overview of the major areas of philanthropy, such as religious groups and higher education. The final section contains a helpful guide instructing readers how to identify reputable charities, how to choose organizations that are in alignment with one’s own passions and how to ensure that donations are properly utilized. Generally, this book works best as a reference guide as opposed to a pleasure read; more than half the content consists of a list of organizations and a rundown of what they do, in addition to an accounting of famous or wealthy philanthropists and which groups they support. In fact, despite the book’s title, most of the philanthropic examples cited are drawn from top-level donors. The material could be better organized, perhaps with an alphabetical listing of the different types of charities followed by a description, rather than compressing them into paragraph form. Although much of the same information already exists on sites devoted to philanthropy, some readers will appreciate that Gitelson compiled it into a single, comprehensive source. Websites are included for many of the charities to help with further research.
Readers with even a passing interest in charitable giving will find this guide to be an informative, go-to resource on how to get started.