Growth Through Giving—A Look At Prominent Philanthropists

Growth Through Giving

Throughout history, there have always been patricians and plebeians, the fortunate and the unfortunate, the wealthy and the poor. Fortunately, in light of the radical monetary differences inherent in this fiscal stratification, there have also always been charitable, philanthropic, and altruistic efforts to balance the spectrum and help tip the scales toward equality. While not all may be so generous, there are many individuals at the pinnacle of net worth who are willing to lend a hand to those who need a hand; and they deserve to be acknowledged for their charity. Listed below are some of the wealthiest and most altruistic members of society who put the “human” back in “humanity”:

George Lucas:

The mastermind of the Star Wars franchise has developed not just a cult-like following through his vast imagination, but also a fortune to match it. In 2012, the Walt Disney Company offered Lucas the enormous sum of $4 billion for his stake in LucasFilm. He took it, but he isn’t keeping it.

Instead, the world-renowned filmmaker opted to sign the Giving Pledge, an initiative spearheaded by Bill Gates, that urges the wealthiest men and women in the world to donate the majority of their net worth to philanthropic organizations/efforts. While it is not yet known what specific charities will receive Lucas’ Giving Pledge generosity, it is clear they will be tacked onto an already extensive list of beneficiaries including, but not limited to, the George Lucas Educational Foundation and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

Indeed, Lucas’ primary interest is in education, having invested in project-based school systems that emphasize creative learning, and creating Edutopia, a website dedicated to reforming K-12 education.

“As humans, our greatest tool for survival is our ability to think and to adapt — as educators, storytellers, and communicators our responsibility is to continue to do so,” said Lucas.

His charity places the Star Wars creator in the ranks of the few individuals in the world to donate over $1 billion to altruistic causes.

David Geffen

Possibly not as well-known as Lucas, unless you’re familiar with the classic rock industry, David Geffen is a talent agent responsible for an abundance of world-famous musicians and the names they made for themselves. The Eagles, John Lennon, Aerosmith, and Guns N’ Roses all blossomed under Geffen’s guidance, leading and contributing to his incredible $6.9 billion net worth. Geffen has made a lifelong commitment to fiscal altruism as evidenced by his numerous sizable contributions to a multitude of charities. In 2002, his generosity included a $200 million donation to the UCLA School of Medicine, followed by a $100 million donation in 2012.

Geffen also blessed Avery Fisher Hall in NYC with a $100 million donation to put towards renovations. It should be noted that, at this point in time, a large portion of his fortune has not been donated, with possible plans for the money and his vast collection contemporary art currently unknown. In the meantime, Geffen continues to support a myriad of causes, such as health, education, LGBT equality, and, of course, the arts.

Paul Allen

Steve Jobs had Steve Wozniak. Bill Gates has Paul Allen. A co-founder of Microsoft alongside Gates, Allen has since gained an astounding $17.5 billion net worth. Yet, like Gates, he refuses to hoard his cash, giving an amazing $1.8 billion to philanthropic causes over the years. Two years ago, Allen was dubbed “Philanthropist of the Year” by Inside Philanthropy for his $100 million contribution to containing Ebola and frequently ranks in lists of top philanthropists. Beyond that, he has donated $2.6 million to ocean conservation, focusing on research to prevent the destruction of coral reefs.

With a focus on community and sustaining the environment, Allen is truly an exemplary model citizen who we should all strive to emulate.

As we build our careers, our professional networks, and our fiscal resources, we need to remember to give back to the communities that enabled our development. The above men did, and I hope to follow in their footsteps as much as possible.

Donations and Determination—Lessons Businesses Can Take From Nonprofits

Donations to Determination

The not-for-profit industry has come under fire as national trust in many philanthropic organizations rapidly declines. The charity sector of the economy is subject to more and more meticulous scrutiny while many of its fundamental institutions are falling by the wayside. Community hospitals are facing closure across the country. Traditional churches and synagogues are emptying their coffers while simultaneously losing membership across nearly every sect affiliation. Moreover, the sector itself hasn’t grown in the last ten to fifteen years, be that with respect to overall revenue or number of employees.

At the same time, it cannot be said that nonprofits are not prolific or motivated. Many have taken lessons from traditional businesses over the years. Though concepts such as strong branding, improved money management, and a robust leadership structure were once taboo among nonprofit organizations, the majority have adopted the conventions of the modern business in order to better deliver on their promises to do good in the world. Now, in an era of suspicion of corporate motives, businesses would do well to learn from the engagement practices of nonprofits.

While the nonprofit sector has not profoundly expanded in recent history, the management skills of the industry have improved exponentially. The stigma behind management, once regarded only as a byproduct of corporate greed, is gone, now exemplifying a commitment to shrewd fiduciary responsibility, especially in a sector where funds are often tight. Therefore, strong financial and logistical planning is generally something that nonprofits do very well, enabling them to focus further on their mission.

With resources scarce, nonprofits must not only rely on effective branding and building strong relationships with stakeholders to gain support. Granted, there’s a big difference between average consumers and the individuals that nonprofits assist, but learning and acting on their needs is necessary for any business.

The difficult part of this process is often finding enough support to effectively complete a mission. In order for this to happen, benefactors will have to care about the cause that the nonprofits are supporting, a tricky proposition with so many charities clamoring for attention. Nonprofits have, as a result, become adept at telling a story. These stories often humanize the community in need of assistance, explain how the nonprofit plans to help, and includes a call to action in which the audience is encouraged to contribute. Even in for-profit businesses, appealing to an audience on an individual level can often drive others to action more effectively than broadly espousing a product or service.

This whole process is about making connections on an emotional level. As nonprofits can rally communities and bring people together for a common cause, so too can businesses create a passion for their products and services that leads to brand loyalty. A consumer should ideally feel that the companies that they support are in turn supporting them; communication is, as previously mentioned, the key to building a significant relationship.

Viral marketing may be one of the latest trends to grace the Internet, but nonprofit organizations codified the process of getting advertising to socially propagate itself. Even on social media today, nonprofit-oriented news stories dominate feeds, encouraging readers and viewers to make some small difference on their own. And this approach works quite well, gathering support through emotions in a way that for-profit businesses stand to learn from.

Chabad of Southside’s Groundbreaking Event

“This past Sunday, September 18, over 250 people attended Chabad of Southside’s Jewish Life Center for a groundbreaking event that marked the beginning of construction on their new, 10,000 square-foot religious hub.”

The Finker-Frenkel family (Raissa Frenkel, Lazar Finker, Eugene Frenkel and Brooke Frenkel) attended the Chabad of Southside’s Groundbreaking Event. Donations have been made by the family as well as through their family foundation. See more here

New Endowments, Dedication Campaigns at The University of Miami School of Business

Recently, the Finker-Frenkel Foundation bestowed upon the University of Miami a $125,000 dollar gift in addition to establishing two scholarships. Each year for the next five years, the Foundation will award $5,000 to a deserving student based off of financial need and merit. To learn more, please proceed to the following article.