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The Philanthropic Mind: Surprising discoveries from Canada’s Top Philanthropists

by Chuck English and Mo Lidsky

We’ve all seen it. The news item about someone who has just made a very large donation to a zoo or a hospital. There’s the picture and the pre-requisite quote about the gift’s impact and how meaningful it is to support the cause.

But what’s the real story? How did that donation really come to be? What is the essence of the philanthropic mind?

That is what is at the heart of this book. The authors wanted to know more about philanthropists’ passions, motivations, defining experiences, like, dislikes, joys and challenges.

The Philanthropic Mind is based on dozens of candid interviews with Canada’s top philanthropists who share their personal stories and surprising insights. As a result, this book is written from the view of major donors/philanthropists – rather than the fundraiser’s experience.

For readers in Australia, most of the donors interviewed talk about gifts to universities, hospitals and large art institutions – prime recipients of private giving in Canada.  But the interviews are still an excellent basis for observations of major donor characteristics in general.

The lesson learned from all the examples in this book is that you can’t judge a philanthropist’s playbook by its cover. The effectiveness of research based on giving history is limited because the reasons behind the gift are infinitely more important than the fact that it was given.

That philanthropists are as subject to whim and fancy as any of us has significant implications for major gift officers and manager.

The Philanthropic mind is a rare opportunity to learn from and be inspired by Canada’s most generous individuals – and to glean the real reasons behind some of their largest donations. Their interviews and examples of their giving are motivational and inspiring.

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