Timely and timeless – an excellent way to describe Richard Marker’s just released book, Saying “Yes” Wisely: Insights for the Thoughtful Philanthropist.
Saying “Yes”, a collection of Marker’s essays written over the past ten years, lays out his vision of what thoughtful and responsible philanthropy should be. His lifetime of varied experiences has taught him that “it may be hard to say ‘no’ graciously, but it is even harder to say ‘yes’ wisely. Addressing real issues, including family legacies, Marker does not shy away from controversial topics and through this collection helps funders to be more thoughtful about the decisions they need to make.
Here’s an excerpt:
“If it is hard to say no graciously, it is even harder to say yes wisely. In reviewing eligible proposals, the decisions become even harder. In my career, I have been an executive in the not for profit sector, taught at the university level, consulted in the for-profit sector, and served on a variety of boards. Yet, as a foundation executive, I am continually struck by how little I know. There are seemingly wonderful projects which we cannot adequately evaluate because we lack the expertise, and whose worth cannot be proven unless a funder takes a chance. Some ideas and projects might change the world, or at least some small part of it; others will be failures, glorious or otherwise. Some are prestigious and safe; others might become the next great thing. With limited funds and more limited prophecy at our disposal, each approved grant is a well-placed bet. With all the analytic abilities that trustees, program officers, and evaluators bring to bear, it is always human judgment that is the final arbiter.”
[eJP note] Richard Marker works as an independent advisor specializing in strategic philanthropy and planning. He is a Senior Fellow in Philanthropy at NYU’s George Heyman Jr. Center for Philanthropy and, in addition to other writing pursuits, is a regular contributor to – and special friend of – eJewish Philanthropy.