What Works, By Hamish McRae


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The Independent Culture

This cheering and readable book by The Independent's economic commentator deftly analyses the reasons for the success of 20 phenomena from the City of London to mobile telephony, Harvard to Ikea. It deserves a readership far beyond the ranks of suits.

A section on "New York Philanthropy" points out that Americans devote more than two per cent of GDP to charities. McRae notes that private philanthropy can move faster and provide greater drive and wiser spending than governments. Best of all, it is simply there.

New York is "a city built on philanthropy", which doesn't have to be financial. The High Line, a disused elevated railroad transformed into a linear park, was the idea of two New Yorkers, who raised seed money and set the process into action.