Beeston’s Blog – in which Emma Beeston reflects on her experience of writing her first book “Advising Philanthropists” (available now to pre-order from the Directory of Social Change)

We regularly feature excellent pieces of writing by Sarah Taragon and Stephen Woollett of Clarity CIC and Emma Beeston of the Emma Beeston Consultancy. Emma has provided today’s blog, and we’ll publish Clarity CIC’s latest blog tomorrow.

Emma’s latest blog reflects on her experience of writing her first book, entitled “Advising Philanthropists: Principles and Practice“, which is available now to pre-order on the Directory of Social Change website. The book comes with the following recommendations:

‘By laying out the key principles, functions and ethical issues involved in advising donors, Emma Beeston and Beth Breeze make enormous strides in establishing philanthropic advisory work as a legitimate profession.’ Melissa A. Berman, PhD, Founding President and CEO, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.

‘Thought-provoking, practical, expert and beautifully written. An absolute must-read for anyone who works with wealthy clients, so they can have great conversations about philanthropy.’ Lyn Tomlinson, Head of Impact and Philanthropy, Cazenove Capital.

“Reflections of a first-time author” by Emma Beeston

“The saying goes that everyone has a book inside them. I did not think that included me because writing a book has never been on my bucket list. Yet I have just co-authored one (Advising Philanthropists: principles and practice, written with Beth Breeze) which will be published early next year. We decided to write it to explain what it is that philanthropy advisors like me actually do and why we matter and to address the lack of attention given to this relatively new profession.

“I hope our book is a source of learning for others. Here I want to share what I have learned from the unexpected task of writing a book.

“First of all, I am in complete awe that there are so many books in the world and so many people have written them. I found it really hard and so have a much deeper respect for every author. Especially those who write more than one book knowing what is involved. The bits I found hard were:

o Carving out the time to write. I had fantasies of escaping to a shepherd’s hut in the hills or a Scottish bothy to write alone for weeks on end. In reality it was a case of juggling writing alongside life, family and work.
o The fact that the world of philanthropy and philanthropy advice did not hold still whilst I wrote about it. Issues kept on shifting and providing a stream of new ideas, reports, books, examples and stories, and
o Knowing where to stop when every sentence could be a paragraph, every paragraph a chapter and every chapter a book. Deciding what to include and what to leave out reminded me of my work with clients. When I help them decide on the focus of their philanthropy hey have to realise that they can’t do it all.

“And the one that surprised me the most was the imposter syndrome that took hold when the book neared publication, exposing my writing to public scrutiny. I took comfort from discovering that this apparently happened to some of the very best writers such as Maya Angelou and Agatha Christie who are way beyond my humble beginnings.

“Fortunately, there were good bits too: the lovely flow when fully absorbed in a topic; everything I learned whilst reading others work and trying to distil key concepts concisely; and receiving positive comments from reviewers and endorsers. I am feeling proud of making a contribution in my field of philanthropy advising and in my achievement of writing the book I never thought I would.”

For more information on the book and to pre-order a copy, please go to