A Tribute to Eliza Hamilton, Whose Charitable Legacy Will Not Be Forgotten

A Tribute to Eliza Hamilton, Whose Charitable Legacy Will Not Be Forgotten

Nov 16

“And when my time is up, have I done enough? Will they tell my story?” There were always tears in the audience when Phillipa Soo sang that line near the end of the Broadway musical Hamilton. Soo was playing the role of Eliza Hamilton, who spent a lifetime trying to fulfill her husband Alexander Hamilton’s curtailed legacy. Eliza, who barely gets a footnote in the history books compared to her founding father husband, was a force of philanthropy. The ripples of her work can still be felt today. Eliza Schuyler Hamilton founded Graham Windham as an orphanage in 1806, and the organization is still alive today, over a century later as a family and youth services organization. They serve over 4,000 children a year, providing foster care, counseling for at-risk families, and a therapeutic school. Soo, together with Hamilton‘s creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, couldn’t resist linking their show to Eliza’s legacy. Soo initiated The Eliza Project, a scholarship program to provide Graham Windham students with workshops in acting, dancing, and rap. Hamilton‘s assistant dance captain, Morgan Marcell, recruited many cast members to participate in “Share Your Stories,” his pen-pal initiative between artists and Graham students. The goal is to encourage students to take “authorship over their own lives.” Members of the Hamilton cast and crew were also instrumental in connecting Graham Windham with Broadway Cares, a grant-making program which provides funding to projects for underserved communities. Broadway Cares was responsible for funding most of the above-mentioned projects. While Eliza Hamilton’s achievements were her own, it cannot be doubted that it is the flame Hamilton re-lit for her that is responsible for the Smithsonian placing her portrait in the collection of the National Museum of American History’s new philanthropy collection. Before it goes to its permanent home there, the portrait, which is in fact donated by Graham Windham, will be displayed beside Miranda’s green silk suit from his role as Hamilton in his own Broadway production. *Photo credit: EQRoy /...

Family Foundations Help Philanthropists Share and Save Their Wealth

Family Foundations Help Philanthropists Share and Save Their Wealth

Oct 27

George Soros, famous (or infamous, depending on which side of the political spectrum your beliefs lie) for donating to liberal causes and Democratic candidates, has transferred $18 billion of his vast wealth into his Open Society Foundations. The transfer immediately dropped him out of the ranks of the 50 richest Americans and catapulted his foundation to the second largest in the U.S. by assets, just behind the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Although reports framed the donation as a sudden gift, Soros’ transfer of wealth to his family foundation has been going on for a while. “It’s an ongoing process of migration from a hedge fund toward a pool of capital deployed to support a foundation over the long term,” said Bill E. Ford, CEO of private equity firm General Atlantic, in a Wall Street Journal article. It was a brilliant move because family foundations, also known as private foundations, can be extremely effective philanthropic vehicles when created by savvy individuals like Soros. There are three very strong motivators behind most family foundations: Caring, legacy, and permanence. And of course, there are the tax advantages. At its core, philanthropy is about caring, and family foundations are a great way to put your money where your mouth is, so to speak. Soros’ worldview, formed by growing up in Hungary during the Nazi occupation and later under communism, is a very strong motivator behind how he has chosen to distribute his wealth. Family foundations are also great tools for leaving a legacy. They help to get the family involved in charitable giving, training them to become wise philanthropists. “To whom much is given, much is expected,” as the old saying goes. And according to research, nearly 70 percent of inheritors of huge fortunes will become more involved in evaluating the impact and results of their giving. One of the most appealing things about family foundations is that they last long past the original donor’s death. That allows the wealthy founders to ensure that the institutions and causes important to them will be funded in perpetuity. It would be foolish to believe that idealism is the only factor at work in the creation of family foundations. They also bring substantial tax benefits, both to the donor and their descendants. Giving to a family foundation can reduce a donor’s income tax for each year in which they make a donation to that foundation,...

Frame USA’s Monthly Charitable Gift Program

Frame USA’s Monthly Charitable Gift Program

Dec 16

Frame USA, an online retailer that specializes in custom and ready-made picture frames, is setting the tone for corporate social responsibility. Frame USA has a “Monthly Charitable Gift Program” in which the company donates a portion of their proceeds towards a “charity of the month.” $0.75 of every order placed through their website and $1.00 of every custom order placed through their physical store will be given to a charity in need. This month, Frame USA is supporting Fill the Truck. Fill the Truck is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit that was launched in December of 2010 by Dan Regenold, CEO of Frame USA. It all started with a dream; Regenold wanted to fill a 54’ semi-truck with charitable donations. The donations included simple, everyday items ranging from shoes to winter coats to bedding and even toilet paper. To say it was a success is an understatement—by the end of the month, Frame USA ended up needing a second truck because the first one was overfilled by about 7%. In total, there were 833 boxes and more than 30 skids, making for over 22,200 donations! And that was just the first year… One year later, in 2011, Fill the Truck partnered with nine other businesses to fill a total of 8 trucks and/or storage units. This year, Fill the Truck has more sponsors and partners than ever before, and the organization is on track for a record-breaking year. Other charities that Frame USA has supported in the past include: The American Cancer Society American Diabetes Association American Red Cross Louisiana Floods Relief Autism Speaks Feeding America Foundation for Survivors of Sexual Abuse Leukemia and Lymphoma Society The Wild Animal Sanctuary Wounded Warrior Project … and many, many more. Thank you, Frame USA, from all of us here at Philanthropic People. You are setting an excellent example of what a socially responsible business looks...

The Foundation of Giving: New Movements by the Wealthy to Give Back

The Foundation of Giving: New Movements by the Wealthy to Give Back

Aug 05

Whether it’s inherent in the structure of a business or a personal choice made by the wealthy individual, more and more billionaires are choosing to give away massive portions of their wealth to charity. Sometimes the donations happen during the person’s lifetime; other times it’s a promise through a program like the Giving Pledge to donate a significant percentage of their money to charity upon their death. On the business side, groups like global financial powerhouse General Atlantic are often founded on the idea of giving back to the community. Established in 1980, General Atlantic has more than 100 investments around the world. But it’s not just about the money—the company founder, Chuck Feeney, was determined to make philanthropy a vital part of the business. According to Bill Ford, General Atlantic Chief Executive Officer, Feeny “was one of the early proponents of ‘giving while living’ and aimed to give his entire fortune away during his lifetime to support a number of philanthropic causes he was passionate about. In order to grow his capital available for giving, he partnered with us to invest in other promising entrepreneurs. So General Atlantic’s heritage has always been about backing entrepreneurs and innovators who are trying to build new businesses and who often pioneer new industries.” In more modern times, many billionaires are not only integrating philanthropy into their businesses, but also turning to Bill Gates’s and Warren Buffet’s Giving Pledge. The pledge is not a legally binding commitment, but rather, a promise by the world’s wealthy to donate more than half of their fortunes to charitable causes either during or after their lifetime. The Giving Pledge is meant to help the wealthy inspire others by providing well-known examples of people who have gone above and beyond to give back to their communities. Each Pledge member publicly announces his or her intent to give, as well as creating an official statement about their philanthropic plans. In addition, they gather throughout the year—and at one big annual event—to discuss issues of philanthropy. As of 2015, this group included 193 individuals from around the world, with more constantly joining “It’s really thinking about how iconic figures providing inspiration and support can inspire and serve as a model for society,” said Robert Rosen, Giving Pledge coordinator and Director of Philanthropic Partnerships for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. “We aren’t looking to add any additional complexity.” Will these...

Fraudulent Maryland Veterans Charity Barred from Soliciting

Fraudulent Maryland Veterans Charity Barred from Soliciting

Jul 12

Image: Shutterstock The state of Maryland has barred a fraudulent charity from soliciting for donations following a number of complaints and an investigation that found the charity was not operating within the law. The Southern Maryland Veterans Association claimed to be helping homeless veterans, but was not using the money they raised for those purposes, and in fact was not even registered with the Secretary of State. Without being registered, the group could not legally solicit for donations and was misrepresenting itself as a charity. They were a familiar sight outside of grocery stores and other locations, and had been soliciting for long enough that there couldn’t be a reasonable argument for why they were not registered with the Secretary of State. The organization was issued a cease and desist order earlier this year, but they requested several hearings to have that order overturned, all of which failed. The Secretary of State, which regulates charities in Maryland, upheld the cease and desist and has urged residents to report further solicitations by the group. This case is yet another example of charities, registered or otherwise, which purport to support veterans defrauding donors. Although fraud in the non-profit sector is actually pretty rare, it does come up in the news when it happens, and in the case of veterans charities, the problem seems to be snowballing. Why veterans charities? It’s a disgrace that we even need veterans charities, that former military personal should have to rely on the kindness of others to help them out instead of the government is beyond many people. And as such, veterans are seen by many as a party well worth supporting with their charitable money. Charity fraud tends to crop up following tragedies which generate a lot of donations (like hurricanes or mass shootings) but for the average scam artist, veterans seem to be quite the cash...

Rapper Big Sean Donates Money to Help Homeless College Students

Rapper Big Sean Donates Money to Help Homeless College Students

Jul 05

Image: Via dailydetroit.com The difficulty of life growing up in a city like Detroit is one of the central themes that runs through hip-hop. For rapper “Big Sean” Anderson, bringing those difficulties to light isn’t enough, so he’s trying to help out. He recently donated $25,000 to a group called HIGH (Helping Individuals Go Higher), which helps students struggling with financial difficulties make it to graduation. HIGH is focused on Wayne State University in Detroit, but the problem of college homelessness isn’t limited to the Motor City. Students who can’t afford housing, food, books, or clothing while they attend classes can be found at schools around the country. HIGH has been working to address the problem at WSU, and they’ve gotten a nice boost from Big Sean, but it’s a problem that needs to be addressed elsewhere, both by non-profits and through political action. With a significant portion of local students, Wayne State University is home to some problems that other schools don’t see as often. Big 10 universities and Ivy League schools tend to have large endowments to help students with tuition, or mostly attract wealthy students in the first place. But as a working class state school, WSU has many students who live at or below the poverty line, and it is exactly those students that HIGH was founded to help. Big Sean donated the money through his Sean Anderson Foundation, which partners with other groups to raise money for a variety of causes. Foundations like this are pretty common, and they’re a good model for people, especially celebrities, who want to help out but maybe aren’t willing to dedicate themselves wholly to one kind of charitable work. Big Sean likes to keep the focus in Michigan, and his foundation recently helped raise $82,755 for the Community Foundation of Greater Flint to help children affected by lead poisoning in that...