ARC, Books, Professional Development

Book 392: Simple Giving – Jennifer Iacovelli

Iacovelli, Jennifer - Simple GivingWhen I read Doing Good Better, I was looking for this. That isn’t a knock on Doing Good Better, it’s a kudos to Simple Giving and Jennifer Iacovelli. And I guess that’s an even bigger kudos to Tarcher/Penguin (publisher’s site) for sending me a copy because I would never have found sought it out, even though philanthropy is what I do for a living.* Simple Giving comes out next week October 27, and I can’t recommend it enough.

Where Iacovelli succeeds in the breadth of which she covers in this rather short book. She talks about individual and crowd sourced philanthropy, she talks about volunteering and socially conscious purchases and businesses and she spends time talking about how you can engage even the youngest of philanthropists in volunteering their time.

Seriously, the breadth of the book was amazing and showed of Iacovelli’s fundraising, technology and blogging credentials very well. Go read her bio on her website and you’ll see just how much she’s put into the idea of simple giving. And then you can check out the Simple Giving Lab, one of the outcomes of her blogging and philanthropy.

There were two thoughts in the book which particularly struck and inspired me:

“Happiness does not always come from the most obvious places. Understanding what drives you into action will help you figure out how to act on your pull to give and what kind of giving will be most meaningful to you.” (21)

“The thought of doing what you love, what you are most passionate about, is both exciting and scary. Exciting because you’d be working on that thing that moves you. Scary because, what if it doesn’t work? Many people don’t move to the point of action because they simply don’t think they can make a difference—enacting change can be an incredibly daunting task. Typically, those who take action on their passion have identified something that is not currently being done. Doubt seeps in fast, and it’s often hard for even your closest friends, family, and colleagues to understand what you are trying to do.” (120)

As someone who works in higher education development (fundraising) and alumni relations and has previously worked in nonprofit philanthropy I’m fascinated by why people give, not how much, not when, but why and Iacovelli is too and I loved hearing all the stories that she included in the book. It has even given me a few ideas that I’m processing. The night before I finished this book I was up until almost midnight because I’d had an “aha moment” and couldn’t stop processing it. (AKA Keep an eye out friends :-D)

In addition to the amazing stories of philanthropists and nonprofits she discusses Iacovelli provides a WONDERFUL set of resources at the end of each chapter and at the end of the book. I definitely want to look more into Kind Spring and ARK Project Now which she mentioned.

If there’s one thing I wished Iacovelli spent a bit more time on was the negative affects of ideas like “philanthro-teens” and “philanthrepreneurs.” Or perhaps on the seeming over-abundance of nonprofits. It seems no one wants to acknowledge that this is potential a problem (Doing Good Better did). The entire point of a nonprofit is to eventually work itself out of a job and I’d be interested in reading more about what Iacovelli has to say about that, I just need to go find if she’s written about it.

Recommendation: This will go on my imaginary work office bookshelf. (AKA I’m holding on to it until I have an office shelf to put it on for reference!) ANYONE who is interested in giving back should read this book. It has ideas for anyone of any age and I appreciated that wide perspective. This is one of those books that is going to sty with me for a long time. Not only is it inspiring and genuine, it is practical and full of common sense. I thoroughly enjoyed Iacovelli’s writing style and appreciated the reminder that I am already a simple giver with something as simple as my actions, so thank you for that.

Opening Line: “I admit it. I am an idealist and want to change the world.”

Closing Line: “You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish when you are committed to making giving a part of every day life.” (Not whited out as this is a work of nonfiction.)

Additional Quotes from Simple Giving
“In all of this we have to remember that what makes one happy doesn’t necessarily make another happy. Our choices and connections will all be different. The types of impact we want to make will be as diverse as our interests, talents, personalities, and backgrounds. Finding that meaningful life will be a different journey for us all. The good thing is that there are many ways in which we can give.” (39)

“The digital age has allowed philanthropists to share their passion and work for the causes that mean the most to them. Collectively, bloggers, readers, advocates, parents, teens and everyday people can use their voices to make a difference in local and global development.” (170)

“My intention is to help make giving an everyday habit, and not because you feel like you have to or because it’s the right thing to do, but because it makes us and everyone around us happy.” (197)

*I received a copy of the book from the publisher in return for my honest response. No compensation was received.


11 thoughts on “Book 392: Simple Giving – Jennifer Iacovelli”

  1. Thank you so much for your wonderful review, Geoff. I love that you had an aha moment while reading it! I have a lot of thoughts on nonprofits and ideas like philanthro-teens. It didn’t quite make it into the book, but you’ve given me some food for thought for future writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t wait to see what else you write! There is so much that could be written about nonprofits that seems to just disappear into the ether when anyone writes a fundraising/philanthropy book because no one wants to write (or read) a 900 page book 😀


  2. I love the idea behind this book, and I think I need to read it. For myself, but It would also be great to have some tips on getting my kids more involved. Thanks for the review!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Perfect timing because I’m at that point of trying to decide what I want to do with my life after retirement. I know it will involve some kind of voluntary work but the quote you used above about the fear of not being able to make a difference is so true. I can’t think what skills I have that would be of benefit. Before I put this book on my Christmas wishlist, do you think the techniques she advocates would work internationally?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I definitely recommend it. I think it’ll adapt well to internationally. The only challenge will be finding local nonprofits like those she lists in Maine. I also don’t think you’ll have a problem using your skills! I mean your advocacy at he library is plenty and is just one example.


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