Lisa Greer and Larissa Kostoff Release “Philanthropy Revolution”

It’s an unusual move on behalf of authors Lisa Greer and Larissa Kostoff to make their new nonfiction book, Philanthropy Revolution: How to Inspire Donors, Build Relationships, and Make a Difference, paced like a solid piece of escapist literature. Greer and Kostoff write numerous passages of the read in first-person, narrative-like prose, complete with dialogue and acute characterizations. This only serves to further the duo’s goal, to make the specialized subject on which they are uniquely qualified to speak all the more comprehensible, and frankly – all the more human and entertaining for the widest possible audience.


Anyone advocating for specific policies within the public square necessitates a certain level of charisma, but often can be dismissed as calculating, formulaic, or – God forbid, ironically – flinty in their image quality. But Greer and Kostoff hit the mark on the aforementioned charisma factor, subsequently putting a human face on that is efficient enough to trump potential naysayers in the latter concept and observational categories. This is reflected in passages like the following, where Greer and Kostoff avidly describe Greer’s introduction with her colleagues to the established world of the philanthropic elite. “I remember catching Josh’s eye above our wineglasses. We’d later discuss the fact that we sensed people watching us. Those around us were chatting, milling about, eating dessert or enjoying a coffee – but they were definitely watching. As I’ve explained, I’d made a significant donation to the Federation only a few months before. Now I had to increase it? We hadn’t been told that the gift was annual and nor had anyone from the organization sought us out to identify the extent to which we were aligned with its values and mission,” they summarize. “We were so embarrassed.

The club has a two-year probation period (ensuring compliance with its charitable donation policy) that neither of us wanted to breach, so we were also at a loss as to what to do. We asked the chairman if we could enter the same amount as we’d donated previously and left it at that. But, in the car on the way home, we wondered aloud whether all the other donors out there were accustomed to being strong-armed in this manner, in public. Was this philanthropy?”

With that last, haunting choice of words: Was this philanthropy, Greer and Kostoff tie their central point(s) to every aspect of their overall, narrative presentation time and again. There’s nothing that feels tangential or overall detrimental to maintaining the book’s laser-sharp focus on its topical points. If anything, it feels like a continual magnification of the broad, sweeping statements and indictments Greer and Kostoff charge the philanthropic organizational structure to be guilty of, simultaneously throwing out points, analyses, and even hypotheses as to how to correct these flaws once and for all and reinvigorate what at its core philanthropy should conceptually be all about. Like any enterprise that enjoys a fair share of wining and dining, and overall silver-tongued publicity techniques, it’s time to go back to basics.


It can be easy, Greer and Kostoff warn, to get lost within the presentational value of an endeavor – leaving the actual work itself as something attended to secondhand. But with tremendous events like the reemergence of the Covid-19 Delta variant, time has run out for niceties and formalities. People no longer have patience for promises, unless they are delivered upon. By providing a contrasting roadmap, Greer and Kostoff shine a spotlight and scream in the most eloquent way possible.

Nicole Killian

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Nicole loves to go cross country skiing, swimming, reading and critiquing books, listening and critiquing music, some culinary arts, pottery, spending time with my daughter, cheesy horror films.

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