Bellagio Library/

How We Give Now: A Philanthropic Guide for the Rest of Us

by Lucy Bernholz

(Photo: Jay Adams)

Image is of the book cover for How We Give Now: A Philanthropic Guide for the Rest of Us.Lucy Bernholz participated in the Bellagio residency program in 2015. During this residency she worked on How We Give Now: A Philanthropic Guide for the Rest of Us. She is the Senior Research Scholar at the Stanford University Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, where she directs the Digital Civil Society Lab.

A few words with Lucy

“I was just starting out with the book when I arrived at Bellagio – while there, I revised the entire outline and wrote some of the chapters. The residency time was critical. I reconceptualised the entire project. This required throwing a lot of material onto the cutting room floor, as they say. This is always painful, but the project was greatly strengthened by the effort.

“The mix of people at Bellagio made it clear to me that I needed to take my original project in a new direction. Conversations with some of the Bellagio fellows, and some of the dinner conversations with guests down the hill, inspired me to shift the research structure that informed the book.”


Philanthropy is more than writing a check and claiming a tax deduction. For non-wealthy givers, it can be a way of living our values and participating in society. And we give in all kinds of ways – by shopping at certain businesses, canvassing for particular candidates, or making conscious choices with our retirement funds.

In How We Give Now, Lucy Bernholz explores the often-overlooked worlds of participatory philanthropy: the everyday ways that we can give our money, our time, and even our data to help our communities. Donating our data is an emerging form of philanthropy, and Bernholz describes safe, equitable and effective ways of doing so. In the pursuit of ethical giving, the book compels us to “follow the money” in order to know precisely where our dollars are going.

Philanthropy – across geographies and cultural traditions – begins with and builds on an active commitment to our communities.

Explore More

To find out more about Lucy’s work, follow her blog philanthropy2173, where she writes extensively about philanthropy, technology and policy.

You can also read her DIY guide on how to lead or participate in conversations about how people give.

Or you can simply follow her on Twitter.