BOOK: How We Give Now

By Lucy Bernholz

How We Give Now is a call to re-imagine what we include in what is called philanthropy, since people do a whole lot more than just give money to charity. Lucy Bernholz makes 3 overall arguments:

  1. What is called philanthropy in the US – $ to nonprofits – is only one piece of what people actually do. We also give time and data and we give them through mutual aid, politics, consumer choices, investing, etc. Bernholz tells stories of people doing these things well and provides tips on how readers can think about their choices.
  2. We’re now giving data – a huge opportunity but one that needs careful consideration to be done equitably and avoid harm, and we can’t let big corps capture it (which they are, of course, trying to do). The thinking and planning here should be led by people of color, women, and people with disabilities – communities who have been most harmed in past. This gives us an opportunity to define both a new path for giving that is equity and justice centered and follow new pathbreakers. It includes considering what data shouldn’t be given (or even collected). Civil society must lead here.
  3. Hey, if you take #2 and #1 together – It’s time to redefine philanthropy – and the book makes recommendations for advocacy groups, associations, foundations/nonprofits who are thinking ahead.

Available October 12, 2021

For speaking opportunities or to order bulk copies, please contact MIT Press.

How We Give Now is available to order at MIT Press, Bookshop, IndieBound and all other booksellers.

Book Events

Listen to the Talk Radio Europe interview with Lucy Bernholz and Hannah Murray on the new book, How We Give Now: A Philanthropic Guide for the Rest of Us.
On this episode of the Philanthropisms Podcast, host Rhodri Davies interviews Lucy Bernholz on her new book, How We Give Now.
Bernholz conducted research on what she calls the “givingscape” to discover that giving money—a modern definition of philanthropy—misses a large swath of what people are doing to make the world a better place.



How We Give Now is an engaging, must-read guide to the politics of giving time, money, and data; philanthropy’s changing landscape; and its influence on our lives and society.”

Angela M. Eikenberry, University of Nebraska at Omaha

How We Give Now delivers a futurist discussion of philanthropy that is desperately needed in our sector. I see data in a whole new way thanks to Lucy’s masterful exploration.”

Edgar Villanueva, Principal, Decolonizing Wealth Project and Liberated Capital

“With this book, Lucy Bernholz shows us that philanthropy is about much more than money. It is about enacting our values in the world. A vitally needed book, How We Give Now offers a fuller understanding of generosity, the foundation of our shared future, giving us a lot to consider, to be wary of—and to hope for.”

Asha Curran, CEO, GivingTuesday

“I’m aiming for something different with this book. I want to bring people from all races, abilities, ages, and traditions into the center of the conversation to show how we give now: people making daily decisions about how to help others; using all of their resources to lift up their com- munities; using time, money, and data to advance causes; and people facing a dizzying array of giving choices with no guidance, only sales pitches. It’s these people who power change in the world. But it’s also these people whose choices about giving are ignored and devalued in current legal frameworks and incentive structures. Some of the choices being made by the majority of givers reflect their commitment to help and support others without questioning the broader political context. Others anchor their choices in commitments to collective well-being, or a vision of solidarity and abundance, or approaches that have sustained their communities and cultures for millennia. These visions and practices are legitimate in their own right, even as they are ignored or dismissed by laws, professional practices, and incentives of formal, financialized philanthropy. Recrafting the legal definitions and institutions to reflect and embrace this range of approaches would benefit all who participate. It might even mark a true effort to expand, dare I say democratize, philanthropy.”

Lucy Bernholz

Read the reviews

Dr. Lucy Bernholz has written the most important book on philanthropy this year… Bernholz’s biggest contribution with this book is the demonstration of how much generosity is happening outside the transaction of writing a cheque to a charity, and how much oxygen is taken up in the charity sector by this narrow framework.”The Charity Report

How We Give Now offers anyone interested in a fuller understanding of how we participate in society, whether it be with our time, money, or data, a lot to consider — about what our shared futures can look like, if we were to pause to think more deeply about how we do things.”Philanthropy News Digest