What do you get when you mix personalities from "Mean Girls" and "The Real Housewives" with the charity world? Philanthropic events that are more about payback than giving back, and the talk of jewels and fashion is as prevalent as how much money needs to be raised for a good cause. Philanthropist and author Merri Lee Marks chronicles this glittery world of heels and scheming in her captivating book The Giving Game: Surviving Philanthropy's Schemers, Dreamers and Volunteer Vixens - Come Hell or High Heels. Marks is the first to expose the existence of bullying and incivility in the philanthropic realm - a setting which, for all its seeming benevolence, is ironically not exempt from such inappropriate, demoralizing behavior. This realm, Marks contends, has become a competitive sport, overrun by agenda-seeking, glory-hogging, desperate-for-attention housewives who will do most anything to capture the prize: recognition and upward mobility. Based loosely on her first-hand experiences in the trenches of the rich and glamorous, Marks describes how the gloves come off - and the cat claws come out - all too often in a world that is supposed to be altruistic in nature. Many women use the charity arena as a vehicle "to exercise their ego trips, social climbing, agenda polishing and score settling; there are women who will not hesitate to peel off those white gloves and employ power-grabbing and back-stabbing tactics that would make even Machiavelli blush, all for the sake of furthering their social mission, not the charity's mission," Marks writes. Marks categorizes the movers and the shakers of the charity world into four groups: The Altruista - The true worker bee rolling up her sleeves and working for a good cause; The Philanthropista - Your typical society maven, a leader secure in her place and the archetype a Faux-Philanthropista dreams to become; Faux-Philanthropista - A woman who wants to be high-profile but is not; a narcissistic control freak who eats Altruistas for breakfast; The Socialista - The socialite, or Trophy Wife, who donates to organizations to enhance the family name's philanthropic reach and influence in the community. "If you're playing the Giving Game, it's important to get familiar with these archetypes," Marks writes. "Put them in your playbook. Otherwise, not knowing the players might cause you to lose the game." n
The Giving Game by Merri Lee Marks was published by Motivational Press, Inc. in October 2013. The ISBN for The Giving Game is 9781628650068.