Reviewed by The Rev. Rosanna Anderson
Giving 2.0: Transform Your Giving and Our World
by Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen.
Published by Jossey-Bass, 2012 (312 pages).
Are you a philanthropist? You may be already and not realize it! According to Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, “a philanthropist is anyone who gives anything—time, money, experience, skills, and networks—in any amount to create a better world” (page 1). The word philanthropist comes from the Greek philanthropus meaning “love for humankind,” which doesn’t specify needing to give away large amounts of money, or any money, “in order to make a difference” (10-11). By Giving 2.0, the author means “a state of mind that embraces constant learning and improvement” in order to “bring about real change” (256). This book is designed to connect people with resources, to help us reflect on our values and hopes for the future, and empower our giving to “have a bigger impact” (12). Now we can take the next step!
Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen is a Silicon Valley philanthropist and person of faith whose parents taught her the importance of giving back to society. When her mother died, Arrillaga-Andreessen was determined to create an organization that would build on her mother’s legacy of service. She “aspired to have the impact of [her] giving go beyond the emotional rewards of the moment to something that would be intellectually and spiritually satisfying over the long term” (8). During the tech boom, friends and colleagues experienced financial success, but needed guidance on giving. So she founded SV2, a “venture philanthropy partnership,” in which participants “pool their money” to give grants to nonprofit organizations whose mission and effectiveness could expand through funding (154). In a sense, this is what churches, individuals, and families do when we give through UMCOR or support specific ministries in The Advance for Christ.
Local church pastors, members, and leaders could benefit from the insights about leadership, profiles of philanthropists living their calling, and practical resources in Arrillaga-Andreessen’s book. Helpful lists of questions may assist, for example, your church’s mission committee as they discern how best to reach others in their context. Sunday school teachers, youth group leaders, and parents may be inspired by ideas in the “For the Family” section in each chapter to help children and teens explore and learn more as they try various ways to share in giving. Engaging with the questions provided for “Creating Your Giving Journal” would be a meaningful exercise for individuals on the church council to discuss at a retreat, or for an adult education series. The book’s appendix also includes an excellent fifteen-page “Jargon Buster” of key terms. Her “Giving Circle Guide” and many other resources are available on her website www.giving2.com.
Giving can transform your life, and you don’t need big bucks or loads of free time to get started. As Arrillaga-Andreessen writes, “It’s never too early to start giving, and a $5 gift could set you off on a voyage that will become a lifelong venture. An hour spent volunteering would be another way to begin that journey. Your time, energy and skills are powerful gifts” (55). She uplifts a broad perspective: “… it’s helpful to treat every gift not as an independent transaction but as a single note that contributes to a lifelong symphony of philanthropic action—a whole greater than the sum of its parts” (11). Her words evoke the larger purpose that we seek together through the church: to help in the transformation of the world.
Arrillaga-Andreessen teaches philanthropy and social innovation courses at Stanford University. She recently offered the free course “Giving 2.0: The MOOC” (Massive Open Online Course) through the Coursera education platform. All royalties from this book will be donated to philanthropic organizations. She and her husband, entrepreneur and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, established a foundation through which they provide financial support for their shared commitments, one of which is “protecting our protectors” (pages 73 and 256,) such as war veterans, police officers and their families.
The Rev. Rosanna Anderson (RAnderson@UMCdiscipleship.org) is the Associate Director of Stewardship Ministries for Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church.