Top Philanthropy Research Prize Awarded to Beth Breeze for Scholarly Work Surrounding Critiques in Philanthropy
Watch an interview with Dr. Breeze and Elizabeth Knuppel, president of award sponsor Skystone Partners.
(Arlington, VA) The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) has awarded the 2022 AFP/Skystone Partners Prize for Research on Fundraising and Philanthropy to Beth Breeze, Ph.D., for her book In Defence of Philanthropy, published by Agenda Publishing in 2021.
Dr. Breeze is director of the Centre for Philanthropy at the University of Kent in the United Kingdom. She spent 15 years conducting research for the book, including more than 100 interviews with major donors, to inform her writing. Through In Defence of Philanthropy, she questions the rationale for disparaging philanthropic acts and argues that although it may be flawed, philanthropy is a sector to be championed so an abundance of important causes can flourish.
“I’ve been thinking about and wanting to write this book for over a decade, but it took many years to build both the evidence base and the confidence to take on the wide range of critics of philanthropy,” said Dr. Breeze. “I knew from my own experiences, and from countless conversations with fundraisers and other nonprofit leaders, that negative depictions of big donors were often simplistic generalisations that lacked nuance. Yet those criticisms were landing successfully with minimal pushback. We can’t take the resilience of private generosity for granted. If we keep knocking big giving, that is going to make fundraising even harder than it already is. Why would rich people decide to be philanthropic if everyone assumes their gift is a cover for bad behaviour rather than genuine passion for a cause? And how will nonprofits function without their contributions?”
Dr. Breeze is just the second researcher to receive this honor twice, previously being recognized in 2018 for her book, The New Fundraisers: Who Organises Charitable Giving in Contemporary Society? She has written the annual Coutts Million Pound Donor Report since 2008, co-authored Richer Lives: Why Rich People Give (2013), The Logic of Charity: Great Expectations in Hard Times (2015) and co-edited The Philanthropy Reader (2016).
“I am so thrilled that this book has been well received, and truly grateful to have been awarded this prize for a second time,” continued Breeze. “The two books share a desire to explain an important part of society that involves a lot of wishful thinking: both fundraising and big giving are far more complex than most people realise, and they do not happen successfully by accident. We need to have a better understanding of, and take greater care of, both the askers and the givers, if we want to have a thriving nonprofit sector.”
Each year, the AFP Research Council awards the Skystone Partners Prize for Research to the author or authors of a book that contributes substantially to the knowledge and understanding of fundraising or philanthropic behavior.
“On behalf of everyone at AFP, we’re pleased to award this year’s prize to Dr. Breeze,” said Mike Geiger, MBA, CPA, president and CEO of AFP and the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy. “Her book not only exemplifies the high standards of scholarship the Prize’s originators encouraged, but it’s also a valuable tool in advocating for the unique and distinctive role of philanthropy, and the necessary function that fundraising serves to foster the investment in helping and serving others.”
The award is made possible by an endowment established by Skystone Partners, an international fundraising consulting firm, through the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy to encourage advanced research that extends the knowledge of fundraising and philanthropy. This is the 32nd consecutive year that Skystone Partners has supported the $5,000 prize, which Dr. Breeze is using to support an Afghani refugee she has been mentoring since 2006 and provide funds for students at her university suffering hardship as as a result of wars in Ukraine and around the world.”
“Skystone Partners is once again thrilled to support outstanding research in the field of philanthropy,” Liz Knuppel, president and CEO of Skystone Partners said. “Beth’s book invites us in the field to examine our own convictions about philanthropy and philanthropists. It is a brilliant piece of research that is changing the conversation about philanthropy today.”
The AFP Foundation for Philanthropy champions philanthropy and volunteerism by strengthening the nonprofit sector’s current and future leaders, welcoming diverse new voices into the charitable world, and rigorously upholding the highest standards of ethics. The foundation currently focuses on developing fundraising leadership programs, supporting research on critical issues in the profession, building a stronger sector through a more diverse workforce, and renewing public trust in charitable organizations. More information about the foundation can be found at www.afpglobal.org/USFoundation.
Skystone Partners and its diverse team of fundraising consultants have counseled nonprofits and managed campaigns with goals from $1 million to over $500 million. Headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, the firm and its U.S.-based professional staff members are currently serving institutions throughout North America and the world. For more information, go to www.skystonepartners.com.