Creating Social Value Blog / Social Innovation

16 Books to Inspire How We Finance the Future

books for financing the future

At The Lewis Institute, we’ve been having a lot of deep conversations about financing the future.

Here are some excellent books for thinking about the true purpose of capital, understanding the unintended consequences of philanthropy, and exploring new (and sometimes radical) ideas and frameworks for financing.

A special shoutout to entrepreneur-in-residence Sara Minard for not only recommending several of these books below, but adding so much deep insight to our conversations and thinking.


The Purpose of Capital:
Elements of Impact, Financial Flows, and Natural Being

by Jed Emerson

How can we connect how we think about finance with how we think about our lives, world, and purpose? What is the true purpose of capital?

Real Impact:
The New Economics of Social Change

by Morgan Simon

Will impact investing empower millions of people worldwide, or will it replicate the same mistakes that have plagued both aid and finance?

Social Value Investing:
A Management Framework for Effective Partnerships

by Howard W. Buffett and William B. Eimicke

How can we forge cross-section partnerships to address society’s most intractable challenges? How can we increase collaborative efficiency and positive social impact?

Winners Take All:
The Elite Charade of Changing the World

by Anand Giridharadas

How are the global elite’s efforts to “change the world” preserving the status quo and obscuring their role in causing the problems they later seek to solve?

The Divine Right of Capital:
Dethroning the Corporate Aristocracy

by Marjorie Kelly

Wealth inequity, corporate welfare, and industrial pollution are the symptoms of our sickened economy, Marjorie Kelly suggests. How can we rebuild corporations in a way that serves all?

Better Business Makes the Greater Good

by Colin Mayer

How can the corporation realize its full potential to contribute to the economic and social wellbeing of the many, not just the few?

Decolonizing Wealth:
Indigenous Wisdom to Heal Divides and Restore Balance

by Edgar Villanueva

How is philanthropy mirroring dysfunctional colonial dynamics? How can we restore balance and heal the divides between Us and Them, the haves and the have-nots?

Poor Economics:
A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty

by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo

How can we better understand the daily decisions of people living on 99 cents a day to create a world without poverty?

Just Giving:
Why Philanthropy Is Failing Democracy and How It Can Do Better

by Rob Reich

Is philanthropy, by its very nature, a threat to today’s democracy? How might giving better support democratic values and promote justice?

Money Well Spent:
A Strategic Plan for Smart Philanthropy

by Paul Brest and Hal Harvey

How can we structure philanthropy so that it really makes a difference?

Nature of Investing:
Resilient Investment Strategies Through Biomimicry

by Katherine Collins

How can we re-align investing with the world it was originally meant to serve?

Owning our Future:
The Emerging Ownership Revolution

by Marjorie Kelly

How are people creating new forms of generative ownership? What are the essential patterns of ownership design that are working?

Everything for Everyone:
The Radical Tradition That Is Shaping the Next Economy

by Nathan Schneider

How can cooperatives help us rediscover our capacity for creative, powerful, and fair democracy?

Capital and the Common Good:
How Innovative Finance Is Tackling the World’s Most Urgent Problems

by Georgia Levenson Keohane

How can we invest in our shared future? How can we borrow techniques from the world of finance so we can raise capital for social investments today?

What Money Can’t Buy:
The Moral Limits of Markets

by Michael J. Sandel

Have we drifted from having a market economy to being a market society? Isn’t there something wrong with a world in which everything is for sale?