Build Your Base
Paulette is a new voice in the field of philanthropy. She has contributed a great post to New
Voices of philanthropy about how she built her base of knowledge in the field. From Paulette:
A colleague of mine sent me this link- http://www.mcf.org/mcf/resource/philanth.htm-to get my
opinion. She was planning to use it for the philanthropy course she taught and she figured it was
a great ice breaker for her students. As I watched it I had to chuckle at some of the responses
given. Then I realized I was probably just as naive about the real meaning of philanthropy as
they were when I embarked on this journey.
I didn’t have a clue as to where to begin. So, I began at the beginning. Believe my when I say
that Google is your friend. Aside from information received from my various non-profit and
philanthropy courses, I sought out other resources and tools I could use in my work. Below is a
list of books, websites and other primers that remain a large part of my philanthropy library:
• “The Insider’s Guide to Grant Making” by Joel Orosz. This was a
required text for my philanthropy course and is still my go-to guide. Orosz
lays out the work and obligations of a program officer along with
background and history of the field. A very enjoyable read.
• “GrantCraft” This is produced by the Ford Foundation and offers a
wealth of information on philanthropy, grant making, mission-related
investments and anything else related to philanthropy. If you register on
the site you can download virtually all of the guides for free or you can
purchase a hard copy.
• “The Complete Guide to Grant Making Basics” This was originally put
out in two parts but the updated version combines both. It costs around
$65 as an individual (cheaper if your foundation is a member) but well
worth the cost for anyone who wants a grant making 101 course. It covers
everything—from reading proposals, to how to conduct site visits and
understanding non-profit finances (a personal thorn in my side).
• Philanthropy and non-profit blogs. I can’t say enough about them.
These offer a great perspective on the current trends in the field—
Perspectives from the Pipeline; New Voices in Philanthropy (shameless
plug but true-this blog was the one of the first I discovered while on my
journey); and Tactical Philanthropy. Also, sign up to receive newsletters
and blog information from the various foundations. This is a great
resource for seeing what social issues other foundations find imperative
and where they are putting their money.
• Philanthropy magazines and periodicals.
• Chronicle of Philanthropy, Stanford Social Innovation Review and Non-
Profit Quarterly. Most of the articles are free but a subscription is required
for some. I am partial to SSI Review due to its abundance of information
on social issues that are of interest to me (particularly economic
development and poverty).
While there is no dearth of information available and this doesn’t even cover issue- or policy-
related blogs I subscribe to, the above list is the one I found most helpful to build my base of
knowledge. I continue to use these sources as well as many others I have discovered. Books and
blogs are important but networking is key. This avenue worked for me—after joining a local
women’s philanthropy group, I met and now work with one of the program officers. The take-
away: Stay hungry and never stop learning. I myself have just scratched the surface.
Paulette Pierre is a Program Officer intern at The Field Foundation of Illinois. She has a
graduate certificate in Non-Profit Management and Philanthropy from Loyola University and is
currently pursuing her MA in Interdisciplinary Studies at DePaul University.