For These Business Leaders, Philanthropy Is Personal

For These Business Leaders, Philanthropy Is Personal

Sep 29

There’s a lot of talk about high-profile philanthropists like Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett, and Mark Zuckerberg. But for every Bill Gates, there are a dozen other business leaders who are quietly doing the right thing and donating their time and money to organizations they find meaningful. Let’s meet a few high-level business leaders who aren’t in the spotlight but are making an impact through their own philanthropy. Alex Crisses, a managing director at private equity firm General Atlantic, comes to his philanthropy through a personal journey. When his wife was pregnant with their daughter, the couple discovered that she had a unilateral clubfoot and would require corrective surgery. They turned to the doctors at New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS). Because HSS was so helpful to them in their journey to treat their daughter’s condition, there was no question that they wanted to be involved with the organization. “We decided we wanted to do whatever we could to repay, not only in that moment, but candidly, for the rest of our lives,” Crisses said in a video about their experience. Crisses serves on the board of HSS’s pediatric counsel and is co-chairman of the hospital’s annual pediatric fundraiser. Venture capitalist David Bohnett sold his company Geocities (remember that?) to Yahoo! in 1998 and made a cool $300 million in the process. Instead of hoarding the cash, he started his own foundation to give his money to causes that mattered to him. The David Bohnett Foundation focuses on LGBT issues, gun violence prevention, and enriching society through technology and innovation, among other things. “The future of philanthropy is asking those we’re closest to and that we come in contact [with] the most to join you in getting involved in the passions you both share in common,” Bohnett said in his remarks after receiving the CSQ Visionary Award in Philanthropy, Art, and Culture. “One person can indeed change the world, and for many of those people, they simply need to be asked and given a place to start.” Laure Sudreau, attorney and investment management professional, has given a total of $11 million to her alma matter, Pepperdine University School of Law. Her latest contribution of $8 million will be used to help advance the impact of the school’s Global Justice Program. Her donation will support and enhance the program’s current offerings and launching new and innovative initiatives that...

Oxfam Rents Trump’s Childhood Home to Refugees

Oxfam Rents Trump’s Childhood Home to Refugees

Sep 27

In a Tudor-style home in Queens, New York, Donald Trump spent his earliest years. Today, an anonymous owner rents it out through AirBnB for $750 a night. Apparently, that’s what people pay to stay in an awkwardly-decorated house with a picture of 45 on each wall. The owner, who bought it in March of this year, paid $2.14 million for it, even though the Trump family moved out in 1950 and the current president, who was 4 at the time, probably doesn’t even remember the house. Even so, it seemed like the right setting for charity Oxfam to make a point. They rented the house for a night, and donated the stay to four resettled refugees: Ghassan Shehadeh (Syria), Uyen Nguyen (Vietnam), Abdi Iftin (Somalia), and Eiman Ali (Somalia). Three of those four come from countries from which Donald Trump tried to ban refugees. In a statement, Oxfam said that by bringing the refugees to Trump’s own former home, they are sending a message. “In the coming weeks, President Trump will announce his decision on the number of refugees the US will resettle in 2018,” the organization said in a statement. “Congress will finalize spending bills, which determine the level of financial support the federal government will dedicate to aiding and resettling refugees. And the Supreme Court will hear arguments on the president’s unconstitutional refugee and Muslim ban.” According to the UN, this is the era of the highest levels of displacement ever known. There are more refugees worldwide than ever before, and Trump’s stated intentions are to shut our doors tighter than any time since the end of the Vietnam war. The arranged stay’s message is clear: these people are not abstract numbers. They are individuals, they are closer than we know, and we have a responsibility to open our...

As Houston Recovers from Harvey, Don’t Forget About Rockport

As Houston Recovers from Harvey, Don’t Forget About Rockport

Sep 18

The whole world is hearing about Houston in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, but Rockport, Texas, the city where the eye of the storm actually struck shore, tends to be referred to as a footnote. And that has only intensified after Irma’s damaging sweep across Florida. But Rockport’s need is no less. A small city of about 10,000 people, Rockport lost its high school, several hotels, and whole neighborhoods, not to mention all of the local marinas. Recovery is expected to take years, and the town will never be the same. Bill Thomas isn’t a local. He describes himself as a “frequent visitor.” But he saw a need in Rockport, and traveled there immediately after the storm. Thomas is in distribution, and he put that career-gained knowledge to work immediately. A local business owner lent him an empty warehouse that was still standing, and he immediately launched a donation center. Many of the donations coming into Rockport from across the country had no place to go, and it broke his heart to see pallets of baby food and paper goods that had to be thrown out from being left out in the elements. His warehouse gave everybody a place to bring those donations, a place he called Aransas County Harvey Donaton Center. In less than a week, community members and strangers alike had donated nearly $10,000 to cover the center’s costs. A local business donated nearly 200 mattresses and pillows. Bayer Motor Company ran a fundraising drive among its employees. “That’s what Texas is about,” said Bayer’s CEO Lucy Larose. “You just come together and you put aside your differences and you put aside what might be bothering you and you feel in your heart just that need to help out.” Everything in Thomas’s Donation center is being given away free to anyone who needs it, and nearly everyone who has come for supplies has stopped a while to volunteer...

Astronomers Without Borders Recycling Eclipse Glasses

Astronomers Without Borders Recycling Eclipse Glasses

Sep 04

Between libraries and NASA, over 3.5 million eclipse glasses were handed out for free in the United States in the months leading up to the August 21 total eclipse. Ten times as many were sold by retailers like Safeway, Walmart, and Amazon. And all for one three-hour event. Their use outside of an eclipse is limited. Wearing a pair, only the brightest lights can be seen at all, so they’re useless as sunglasses, and they aren’t strong or durable for welding glasses. So rather than put them in a scrapbook or losing them in a box somewhere, send yours on to be useful to someone else. Astronomers Without Borders is a nonprofit dedicated to bringing the study of the universe to underserved communities around the world. They give telescopes to schools, support science programs in developing countries, and award grants to small schools so they can introduce their student bodies to the intersection between art and astronomy. In the wake of the recent eclipse, they’re asking that you “don’t waste, donate” your eclipse glasses. With the help of corporate partners like Google and Celestron, they’re collecting used glasses to donate them to schools in Asia, which will see a total eclipse in January 2019 that crosses through central China, Mongolia, and Russia, and in South America, which will see totality in July 2019 on a path through Chile, Argentina, and Brazil. Do check to make certain that glasses you are donating are up to spec. With this recent eclipse crossing fourteen U.S. states, the market for eclipse glasses boomed and spawned a catastrophic proportion of counterfeiters. Substandard eclipse glasses may allow you to look at the sun without pain while still allowing enough light through to do irreversible damage to the center of vision. Sign up for AWB’s newsletter to get astronomy news from around the world, and to learn where you can donate your glasses. Photo: People view the August 21, 2017, solar eclipse in Bryant Park in Manhattan. Credit: James...

Beware of Hurricane Harvey Charity Scams

Beware of Hurricane Harvey Charity Scams

Aug 28

One thing about natural disasters: They bring out the best—and the worst—in people. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey and the resultant flooding, aid has been pouring in to Texas. Dozens of disaster relief organizations either have or are arranging for staff to be present to assist the people and animals left homeless by Harvey. Not only that, but area residents are helping one another, too. Unfortunately, though, there are always people who will take advantage of our desire to help the victims of natural disasters. Scammers are now using the Hurricane Harvey disaster to trick people into clicking links, both on Facebook and Twitter, and through phishing emails trying to solicit charitable giving for flood victims. Here are some examples provided by KnowBe4’s Security Awareness Training Blog: Facebook pages dedicated to victim relief that contain links to scam websites. Tweets are going out with links to charitable websites soliciting donations, but in reality they include spam links or links that lead to a malware infection. Phishing emails appearing in users’ inboxes asking for donations to #HurricaneHarvey Relief Fund. KnowBe4 suggests that you send employees, friends, and family an email about this scam of the week. Here’s their suggested text: “Heads-up! Bad guys are exploiting the Hurricane Harvey disaster. There are fake Facebook pages, tweets are going out with fake charity websites, and phishing emails are sent out asking for donations to #HurricaneHarvey Relief Funds. Don’t fall for any scams. If you want to make a donation, go to the website of the charity of your choice and make a donation. Type the address in your browser or use a bookmark. Do not click on any links in emails or text you might get. Whatever you see in the coming weeks about Hurricane Harvey disaster relief… THINK BEFORE YOU CLICK. So, what do you do if you want to make a donation and be sure your money is going to a legit organization and your credit card information isn’t going to be hijacked by scammers? Consumerist recommends the following: Don’t be shy about asking who wants your money. If you’re solicited for a donation, ask if the caller is a paid fundraiser, who they work for, and the percentage of your donation that will go to the charity and to the fundraiser. Call the charity directly. Fiind out if the organization is aware of the solicitation and has authorized the...

Bill Gates Donates $4.6 Billion to Charity

Bill Gates Donates $4.6 Billion to Charity

Aug 21

Bill Gates, the richest man in the world, has just made his biggest contribution to charity since the year 2000. According to a recent U.S. Securities & Exchange filing, Gates gave 64 million Microsoft shares (the equivalent of $4.6 billion) to an undisclosed recipient. Although the beneficiary has not been named, it is expected that the donation will go the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—a charitable organization that he and his wife founded in 2000 to improve global healthcare and reduce poverty. The foundation has not yet responded to requests for comment. While $4.6 billion may sound like a lot of money, The Guardian reports that the shares donated only represent about 5% of Gates’ $90 billion fortune. But it doesn’t come without a cost. Gates’ latest act of generosity has reduced his stake in Microsoft to just 1.3%. In 1996, Gates owned 24% of Microsoft. One of his biggest donations came in 1999, when he gifted $16 billion worth of Microsoft shares. The following year, he gave an additional $5.1 billion. To this day, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation remains the world’s largest private charity. Also of note: Gates’ recent $4.6 billion donation is a record-setter. As The Guardian points out, it is the biggest charitable contribution made this year, topping a $3.2 billion donation from Warren Buffett last month. In 2010, Bill and Melinda Gates teamed up with Buffett to create the Giving Pledge—a vow to donate at least 50 percent of their wealth to charity. More than 170 of the world’s wealthiest people have since taken the pledge, including Mark Zuckerberg, Michael Bloomberg, and George Lucas. “I realized ten years ago that my wealth has to go back to society,” Bill Gates once said. “A fortune, the size of which is hard to imagine, is best not passed on to one’s children. It’s not constructive for them.” Bill and Melinda Gates have been very public about the fact that they will not be leaving all of their wealth to their children. The couple would rather their children make their own way in the world so that they will remain...