Philanthropy And The Arts: Is This The Next Hawking?

Philanthropy And The Arts: Is This The Next Hawking?

Philanthropy and the Arts, Jennifer Radbourne and Kenneth Watkins (Melbourne University Press).
Philanthropy and the Arts, Jennifer Radbourne and Kenneth Watkins (Melbourne University Press).

Philanthropy and the Arts, Jennifer Radbourne and Kenneth Watkins (Melbourne University Press).

It has been said that Stephen Hawking’s A brief history of time is the greatest book never read. It adorns millions of bookshelves but few people have read it all the way through. I suspect Philanthropy and the Arts will suffer a similar fate if arts organisations start buying this book and giving it to their patrons to read.

I think people should buy multiple copies. My first order was five copies and I will buy more. However, I think the fundraising language of stewardship, cultivation, donor pools and pipelines will not be what wonderful arts philanthropists will like to read about themselves.

On the other hand, this book must become a serious work of study for every senior fundraiser working in a major performing arts company. Many other fundraisers will also find it very useful. Although this is in small-book format, it is 200 pages of wonderful information. This is not a quick read that you give a board member to get them up to speed quickly on the topic. Nor is it something you want in the hands of the inexperienced fundraiser who will simply try to copy The Australian Ballet model without the deep thinking about how the principles so well described in this book apply to their organisation.

This little book is a great combination of the academic and arts management experience of Jennifer Radbourne, and thoughtful, practical wisdom of Kenneth Watkins of The Australian Ballet. The book is well-referenced, and you can’t say that about very many books on fundraising. If you seriously want to improve the fundraising in your arts organisation buy this book, and as an old prayer had it “read, mark, learn and inwardly digest it.” Think about giving it to your CEO and board members. Think twice about giving it to donors beyond your board.