There is recently an interest in large scale philanthropy. The charge is being led by The Gates family, Warren Buffet and many others. It may have begun in 1997 with Ted Turner’s billion dollar pledge to the UN.
The December 2 issue of Forbes has an article about the top 50 donors. You can find it here.
Before you go further, notice that if you had donated $50 million in 2012, you would occupy 32nd place. For $20 million you don’t make the list. These people are serious donors and have serious wealth with which to support their positions.
What is it about people with great wealth and charity? What motivates them? There are many factors but the ones I see are these:
There seem to be themes in their efforts.
The education in the United states seems odd at first glance. Nonetheless there are some fascinating things on the go. The Gates foundation is a big supporter of the Khan Academy. A fascinating and modern way to teach. Take a look here and make sure your children and grandchildren know about it. There is a fascinating TED Talk too. Watch this if you want to see the future of education. 20 minutes.
Another interesting one is The Robin Hood Foundation. Fixing schools one at a time. Why. The founders see the US as in the bottom quartile for quality of education. Also from Forbes
Obviously few of us can contribute large money, but all of us can contribute something. Choose you charities with care. Solving problems eliminates problems. Dealing with the symptoms does not. If anything dealing with the symptoms make the problem grow rather than shrink.
As the end of the year approaches and many are planning to catch up on their donations, think it through more thoroughly. All of us can help a little and if we do it thoughtfully, we can collectively make a big difference. Talk to a financial adviser about how leverage your gifts. You might be surprised what you can do.
Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario.
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