The Price of Humanity: How Philanthropy Went Wrong—And How to Fix It (Hardcover)

The Price of Humanity: How Philanthropy Went Wrong—And How to Fix It By Amy Schiller Cover Image

The Price of Humanity: How Philanthropy Went Wrong—And How to Fix It (Hardcover)

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"[Schiller] memorably chronicles why philanthropy is important, how it became flawed and what can be done to transform it for the greater good."Tobias Carroll, InsideHook

An attempt to rescue philanthropy from its progressive decline into vanity projects that drive wealth inequality, so that it may support human flourishing as originally intended.


The word “philanthropy” today makes people think big money—Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffet, and Andrew Carnegie come to mind. The scope of suffering in the world seems to demand an industry of giving, and yet for all the billions that are dispensed, the wealthy never seem to lose any of their money and nothing seems to change.

Journalist, academic and consultant Amy Schiller shows how we get out of this stalemate by evaluating the history of philanthropy from the ideas of St. Augustine to the work of Lebron James. She argues philanthropy’s contemporary tendency to maintain obscene inequality and reduce every cause to dehumanizing technocratic terms is unacceptable, while maintaining an optimism about the soul and potential of philanthropy in principle.

For philanthropy to get back to its literal roots—the love of humanity—Schiller argues that philanthropy can no longer be premised around basic survival. Public institutions must assume that burden so that philanthropy can shift its focus to initiatives that allow us to flourish into happier, more fulfilled human beings. Philanthropy has to get out of the business of saving lives if we are to save humanity.
Amy Schiller is a journalist, academic, and consultant. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Dartmouth College in the Society of Fellows. She previously held fellowships at Stanford University and Bard College. Her writing has been published in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The Nation, and The Daily Beast and has been quoted as an expert on philanthropy in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, and Slate. She has also had a nearly 15-year career in major gift fundraising consulting. She has worked in a wide range of settings, from international humanitarian nonprofits to a major New York City dance company.
Product Details ISBN: 9781685890223
ISBN-10: 1685890229
Publisher: Melville House
Publication Date: December 5th, 2023
Pages: 272
Language: English
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"[Schiller] memorably chronicles why philanthropy is important, how it became flawed and what can be done to transform it for the greater good." Tobias Carroll, InsideHook

"Down-to-earth, chatty prose...[A] refreshing vision of what true “love of humanity” could look like." — Philanthropy News Digest

"Schiller presents a hopeful vision of philanthropy and society...Thoughtful, timely reading, both intelligent and humane." Kirkus Reviews

"Absolutely essential reading for anyone working in or involved in philanthropy today." —Anne Helen Petersen, author of Can't Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation

"Clear-headed, impassioned and lively ... [an] articulate, knowledgeable take on a complex subject. What makes it so entertaining are the well-chosen examples and the humor that inflects, whenever possible, the author's earned indignation." —Phillip Lopate, author of Getting Personal

"In The Price of Humanity, Amy Schiller takes an unpromising subject and infuses it with passion, warmth, and humor. She does so by putting pressure on the '-anthropy' in 'philanthropy.' What does it mean to live a human life, she asks—is bare survival enough, or does it require something more expansive—and what does it mean to make one possible for others? In so doing, she implicitly illuminates the 'phil-' part, too. How can we love humanity in a way that honors our own? This book provides a pithy, personable guide."—William Deresiewicz, author of Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life

"This is a magical book. It takes philanthropy out of the hands of the Gates Foundation and the Effective Altruists and restores it to its original purpose: love of humanity. It is an enthralling experience, made all the more by Amy Schiller’s distinctive voice: wise, skeptical, delighted, hilarious, grounded, joyous, sharp, and shrewd, so much in love with the humanity, and the individuals, who move across her pages and, thanks to her narrative art, step into our lives."—Corey Robin, author of The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edward Burke to Donald Trump