This section of my website has two parts: In “Part One,” I describe a small, part-time, philanthropy consulting business (which I might start up [if I do, this sentence, and this “Part One” section, will be updated to reflect that fact]). “Part Two” could be viewed as, in a sense, an extension of the Nowhere on our radar section – they complement each other nicely. If you are not in a position to be a potential client for my philanthropy consulting business, then you can skip down to Part Two.
As the Read this first! page makes clear, the main purpose of this website is to supplement the ads, in which I am seeking philanthropic support, to provide the means for me to be able to pursue my stated goal of “saving the planet.” Without that financial backing – giving me the ability to immerse myself in this work, full-time, and hire assistants – I can’t move forward with any of my strategies. I am confident I will get that backing. The question is when? Time will tell. In the meantime, however, to help pay my living expenses, and be better able to afford to run those ads (seeking philanthropic gift capital), I may choose to also run the following ad, occasionally, as well: [Please ignore the giant quote mark.]
*”It is more difficult to give money away intelligently than it is to earn it in the first place.” — Andrew Carnegie
That quotation, from Andrew Carnegie, also reminds me of something I read in an article that appeared in The New York Times, in which Sam Howe wrote that John D. Rockefeller and his son John D. Jr., “famously brooded, at times to the verge of mental exhaustion, over how hard it was to give away money in an intelligent and useful fashion” (Sam Howe, “Elder Bill Gates Takes On The Role of Philanthropist,” 12 Sept. 1999: 1).
There are so many problems in the world, and so many people in need of help, that it isn’t easy deciding how to direct and focus a foundation’s limited resources. Indeed, although well-intentioned, I believe the vast majority of foundations all make the same mistake – and it is a doozey. I will explain what that mistake is, and suggest a simple way to correct it. (Note: some foundations may have been set up in such a way as to be immutable – and regarding those particular foundations, my advice may not be applicable; however, regarding philanthropists, since they tend not to put all their philanthropic eggs into one basket [so to speak] – or can set up another foundation, if they so desire [or can direct a very large donation to any chosen cause, without setting up a new foundation] – my advice, to them, should still be of interest, and applicable.)
Let me also state that the age and size of your foundation doesn’t matter. No matter how big or small, old or new – whether you are setting up a small foundation, or whether you have set up one of the biggest foundations in the world – give me at least thirty minutes of your time, and I believe you might just walk away with a completely new perspective on giving.
According to the late Emanuel Lasker, a chess grandmaster: “Properly taught, a student can learn more in a few hours than he would find out in ten years of untutored trial and error.” With regard to philanthropy consulting, am I the equivalent of a chess grandmaster? Absolutely not. I am certainly not an expert with regard to the nuts and bolts of setting up or running a foundation; and I am not qualified to give legal advice. However, there is one particular area in which I believe I do qualify as an expert – as it has been a chief interest and concern throughout my life (and is something which I believe I have an exceedingly high aptitude for) – and it ties in with philanthropy consulting, in a big way.
You might be wondering how much I would charge for this service. The answer is simple: I leave that entirely up to you. You decide what the fee will be. Give as much – or as little – as you wish. I want everyone to be 100% satisfied – with both the service, and the fee. After the consultation, just take some time to take stock of what was discussed, and then ask yourself: (a) what have I learned from this?, (b) how much has this changed my perspective on giving?, and (c) how can I best put this into practice? (For example, should I restructure an existing foundation, set up a new foundation, do both, or are there other options to consider?)
I look forward to meeting with you, and having a mutually rewarding discussion. Please call or email me if you have any questions, or would like to set up an appointment. Remember, you have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. My presentation, and the information I wish to share with you, will not take up much of your time; but the knowledge and insight you stand to gain, are priceless, and will last a lifetime. [Again, I have not yet formally launched this consulting business, and indeed, might not ever launch it – in short, my focus is elsewhere – but if I do start it up, I will amend this sentence to reflect that fact. Also, as I mention in the Solutions section, I would like to be able to create a comprehensive website, to provide all of this information I wish to share with you, free of charge, as a public service, for all to have access to, and for all to benefit from.
First, I suggest you go back and revisit the introductory remarks in the Nowhere on our radar section (if that information is not still fresh in your memory [or if you haven’t yet read it]), because those same introductory remarks fit in perfectly here, as well.
In addition to all of the examples I’ve listed, in the Nowhere on our Radar section, another way to illustrate how protection of the biosphere, rarely, if ever, enters our consciousness, is to share examples from some of the thousands of articles I have collected over the years, that relate to the subject of philanthropy.
Incidentally, I believe that wealthy philanthropists represent a key potential force for saving the planet. Since so much wealth is concentrated in the hands of so few, it should not be difficult to understand how philanthropy can represent such a significant potential force for effectuating great change in the world.
One key problem with philanthropy, however, can be summed up by that phrase “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Man is squeaky; but nature isn’t. Our time, attention, energy, money, and resources, very disproportionately go to people, and to what I term “people problems,” as opposed to what might best be described as “planet problems.” To demonstrate the magnitude of this disproportionality, let us first pose the question: “How many species, in all, inhabit this planet?” Ten million? Twenty million? Thirty million? Whichever estimate we come up with, the telling fact remains: in almost every example of philanthropy that I see – money that is given away, or bequeathed – the recipient cause is one which benefits just one species: Homo sapiens. This is a result of pure anthropocentric conceit. Moreover, it also reveals a frightening lack of concern – or lack of awareness – that our very existence, and even our humanity itself, is endangered, when we endanger other species (or the biointegrity, of the biosphere). Our survival on this planet requires the existence of other life forms, as well as the life-sustaining processes that this planet provides. Not only is this a subject about which we still have so much to learn, but our survival itself may well depend upon us acquiring some of that knowledge – and quickly!
Another important consideration is this: If nature and nurture are the driving forces that shape us into who and what we are, then we should not find it surprising at all, that as we change the environment, that new environment, in turn, reshapes us. This is what I believe is happening. And since destroying nature increasingly disconnects us from the natural world, it also fuels (and perhaps even accelerates), that same vicious cycle.
Below, I have provided many examples to illustrate how philanthropy is so very disproportionately directed towards people, and “people-problems” (disease, hunger, poverty, education, crime, unemployment, health care, illiteracy, etc.), as opposed to “planet problems” (deforestation, global warming, ozone depletion, acid rain, loss of biodiversity, loss of habitat, degradation of habitat, etc.). Since this is a very lengthy section, you might wish to skim through it (!). It is certainly not necessary to read every bit of it, to understand the main points I am making. However, please be sure not to miss my conclusionary remarks, at the very end of this section (!):
- As reported in Newsday (AP “Buffet billions to Gates’ charity” 26 Jun. 2006: 8), Warren Buffet announced a gift of 10 million shares of his stock – worth nearly $31 billion – to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, “considered a leader in international public health, particularly in the fight against HIV, malaria and tuberculosis.”
- In an article about Bill Gates’ philanthropic foundation, “How to Give Away 21.8 Billion,” which appeared in The New York Times Magazine section (Jean Strouse, Apr. 16, 2000: 62), there was an accompanying list showing “Where the Money Goes.” Here is a condensed breakdown:
$1 Billion … scholarship program
$750 Million … vaccines and immunization
$350 Million … K-12 education
$200 Million … Gates Library Program
$100 Million … vaccines to children
$50 Million … Maternal Mortality Reduction Program
$50 Million … malaria vaccine
$50 Million … for the prevention of cervical cancer
$50 Million … polio eradication
$40 Million … to the International Vaccine Institute
$28 Million … to UNICEF for the elimination of maternal and neonatal tetanus
$25 Million … to the Sequella Global Tuberculosis Foundation
$25 Million … to the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative
That’s over $2,700,000,000, entirely for people and for what I term “people-problems” – and for initiatives, which, if successful, will likely exacerbate the world overpopulation problem; and not a single penny for what I term “planet-problems” – serious environmental issues that affect the biointegrity of the biosphere. How’s that for demonstrating a strong imbalance in priorities?
- McDonald’s heiress Joan Kroc posthumously gifted $1.5 billion – a record (the largest single donation ever given to a charitable organization) – to the Salvation Army. She also bequeathed over $200 million to National Public Radio and $50 million apiece to peace institutes at the universities of Notre Dame and San Diego. (The Associated Press, “1.5 Billion Gift Sets a Record,” Newsday 21 Jan. 2004: 2)
- Describing it as “spur of the moment,” like “deciding you’re going to buy a new car,” another news item from my collection (“Thanks a Billion, Ted,” New York Times 21 Sept. 1997), reports on Ted Turner’s decision to give $1 billion to the United Nations, for “programs aiding refugees and children, clearing land mines and fighting disease.”
Once again, to put this “spur of the moment” gift in perspective: that’s $1,000,000,000 for people, and not a penny for the earth.
- In 2007, it was reported in The New York Times that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation announced plans to spend over $500 million, over five years, to fight the growing problem of childhood obesity. (Stephanie Strom, “To Fight Childhood Obesity, A $500 Million Initiative” 4 Apr. 2007: A9)
- Another article in my collection describes a $400 million gift to the SiouxValleyHospitals and Health System. The article states that this was “the third major contribution to a health care organization announced in the last week,” after BrownUniversity’s medical school received $100 million, and a $75 million gift went to a hospital in Boca Raton, Fla. (Stephanie Strom, “Hopes Soar After RecordHospital Gift of $400 Million,” New York Times 4 Feb. 2007)
- In 2007, John Werner Kluge announced that he was giving $400 million to Columbia University. (according to a Newsday photo caption, 12 Apr. 2007: A20)
- A New York Times article (Susan Hansen, “Our Lady of Discord” 30 Jul. 2006), in describing the philanthropy of Thomas Monaghan – the founder of Domino’s Pizza – states that in eight years, his foundation “has donated $140 million to promote conservative Catholic education, media and other organizations.”
Additionally, according to the article, he has pledged or donated $285 million, to build Ave Maria University, a four-year liberal arts Catholic university, near Naples, Florida.
- Describing the funding for the massive renovation and expansion of New York City’s Museum of Modern Art, an article appearing in Newsday (Elizabeth Songer, “MoMA raises $858M – fast,” 19 Nov. 2004: A24), states that David Rockefeller pledged more than $65 million for the effort; Ronald Lauder gave $50 million; and fifty-five individuals or couples donated $5 million or more each.
- On one of the pages in Newsday, devoted to celebrity-related news and information, it was reported that Star Wars creator George Lucas was gifting $175 million to his alma mater, the University of Southern California; and Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were giving gifts of $1 million each to two humanitarian organizations: Global Action for Children, and Doctors Without Borders. (“Pitt, Jolie donate $1M each” 21 Sept. 2006: A12) [There is no by-line, but the article does credit the Associated Press for the reported information.]
- In 2006, billionaire New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, gave $125 million to fund a worldwide campaign against smoking. (The Associated Press, “His gift to halt smoking,” Newsday 16 Aug. 2006: A34)
- In 2006, Newsday reported that John Hopkins University received an anonymous $100 million gift. (Dan Janison, “Bloomberg donates for stem cell research,” 3 Feb. 2006: A37)
- Another article reports on a $60 million gift to Stony Brook University. Two years earlier, the same philanthropists gave $25 million to the same institution, to improve studies in math and physics. (Olivia Winslow, “Stony Brook gets $60M gift of gratitude,” Newsday 28 Feb. 2008: A3)
- Obituaries sometimes mention previous acts of philanthropy – as is the case with the one I saw for Gary Comer, founder of the casual clothing company Land’s End (from “combined news services,” Newsday 7 Oct. 2006: A28). It states that “over the last decade,” he and his wife gave away more than $84 million, which enabled “the creation and expansion of the Comer Children’s Hospital at the University of Chicago.”
- Within two months after a devastating tsunami struck southeastern Asia, on December 26, 2004, Americans had donated about $1 billion, according to an estimate by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. (Henry Gilgoff, “Giving trickles off,” Newsday 7 Mar. 2005: 8)
- I read in one of the periodic “Education” sections, in the Sunday New York Times edition, how University of Virginia president John Casteen had helped the university raise $884 million, and had a goal of reaching $1 billion by the end of the year 2000. (Michael Winerip, “Making the Ask” 1 Aug. 1999: 22)
- In 2002, the annual Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon, raised over $58 million for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Have you ever seen a telethon for anything related to environmentalism?
- Liz Smith stated in her October 17, 2002 column that $60 million had been raised, at a fundraiser, to fight juvenile diabetes. (“Grabbing the Brass Ring,” Newsday p. 13)
- A New York Times article, titled “Soros Gives $250 Million To University In Europe” (about George Soros’ endowment to Central European University) states that Soros’ “network of foundations last year gave out nearly $500 million for education, public health and the development of open societies.” (Tamar Lewin, 14 Oct. 2001, International section: 4)
- According to an article in Newsday, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute received a $360-million gift (“the biggest donation to a university in U.S. history”) “to create world-class programs in biotechnology and information technology.” (The Associated Press, “Record $360M Gift to University,” Mar. 13, 2001: 8).
- An article in The Wall Street Journal (Ann Grimes, “Barksdale to Help Silicon Valley Shed Tightwad Image,” Jan. 20, 2000), reported that technology tycoon Jim Barksdale, was giving $100 million to the University of Mississippi Foundation, to create the Barksdale Reading Institute – which will focus on improving children’s reading skills. The article also mentions that Barksdale’s gift “comes on the heels of a $150 million donation by entrepreneur James H. Clark for a cross-disciplinary initiative in biomedical engineering and science at Stanford University.”
- In 1996, Charles Wang announced a $25 million gift to the State University at Stony Brook, to build an on-campus Asian-American cultural center, which will include gardens, an art gallery, and a conference center. (Jack Sirica, “$25M Gift Builds Bridge to East” Newsday 8 Dec. 1996: 5)
- From a March 31, 2000, article in Newsday (Harry Berkowitz and Steve Wick, “Big Gifts To Colleges From LIers”), we learn that Charles and Helen Dolan, are giving $20 million to John Carroll University – the university at which they first met – Thomas Mendoza is giving $35 million to Notre Dame, and Mary Dickey Lindsay is giving $1 million to Columbia University.
- Another article in my collection describes a $15 million contribution to Southampton College. (Steve Wick, “Reading, Writing And a $15M Gift,” Newsday 25 May 2000: 44)
- Another article describes a $10 million gift to Brooklyn College, from telecom titan Leonard Tow and his wife, Laura. The gift will be used to build the TowCenter for the Performing Arts. (Carl Campanile, “$10M gift for B’klyn College, New York Post 14 May 2003)
- I also have an article, about former Pfizer Inc. head Edmund T. Pratt Jr. and his wife, Jeanette, donating $12 million to Long Island University for construction and improvements to its facilities. (Kara Blond, “Local Couple Donates $12M to LIU Campuses,” Newsday Jun. 23, 1998: 3)
- Adelphi University announced that it had received its largest donation from a living individual in its 107-year history, in 2003, when Horace Hagedorn, the founder of the Miracle-Gro plant food company had contributed $1 million. (Olivia Winslow, “Gift to Adelphi Sets Record,” Newsday 14 Mar. 2003: 22)
- Under the headline “Frugal Woman Donated $3.5M to W. Kentucky University,” an article describes how “a woman who was so frugal that she slept in the hallway of her boarding house so each room had a tenant, has left $3.5 million to her alma mater.” (The Associated Press, Newsday, Sept. 28, 2001: 14)
- A Newsday article describes a $50 million gift by George Soros, in 1996, to assist legal immigrants to the United States, who haven’t yet attained full citizenship. (The Associated Press, “Financier Offers $50M to Aid Immigrants,” Newsday Oct. 1, 1996: 7)
- Another article in my collection, states that Louise T. Blouin MacBain, spent $84 million to turn an old “factory in West London into the Louise T. Blouin Institute, a place for art exhibitions, performances, screenings, debates and conferences. She talks of opening similar institutes in New York, the Middle East and China.” The article discusses MacBain’s Global Creative Leadership Summit, convened by her Louise T. Blouin Foundation, and also touches upon the subject of private gatherings at her $20-million Manhattan penthouse, about which the article states she “insists she doesn’t entertain very much, that events at her place are not parties but gatherings to discuss ideas.” (Richard Galant, “A maverick’s global agenda,” Newsday 20 Nov. 2006: A46)
Incidentally, any time I see a reference to “gatherings to discuss ideas,” or the like, I feel compelled to point out, that discussing ideas (talking) is, at bottom, entertainment – or it might as well be – unless something concrete comes of it. Empty consumption of ideas, is just consumerism, of a different stripe. It’s like people gathering to discuss sports, or Bible study, except instead of discussing sports, or the Bible, they’re discussing ideas (presumably of a higher order). But so what? Are these just kernels of thought for still yet more fruitless discussions – while the full complement of global crises remains status quo? What I would prefer to see, instead, are very shrewdly selected assemblages of thinkers, uniting, for the common purpose of taking action (and having the financial depth to do so), but moreover, with the specific aim towards taking action to “save the planet.” This, I believe, is something we desperately need.
- A Wall Street Journal article describes how Frederick Phineas Rose “has given $20 million to the Museum of Natural History, $15 million to the New York Public Library, $20 million to Lincoln Center, $5 million to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.” (Monica Langley, “Mr. Rose Gives Away Millions in Donations, Not a Cent of Control,” Mar. 26 1998: 1)
- A New York Times article describes a $1 million contribution from George Soros, that is targeted to providing sterile needles for drug addicts, to stem the spread of AIDS and other diseases. This same article points out that the previous year, he had contributed $1 million for ballot initiatives in California and Arizona, concerning medical use of marijuana. The article states that Mr. Soros “has spent close to $20 million trying to change how Americans look at illegal drugs.” (Christopher S. Wren, “$1 Million Gift for Needles Is a Lifesaver, Financier Says, Not a Ruse to Legalize Drugs,” Aug. 17, 1997: 1.20)
- Ruth Lilly, an heiress to the Eli Lilly pharmaceutical fortune, left behind a half-billion-dollar bequest to art groups and charities, which included a $100 million bequest to Poetry magazine. (Julie Dunn, “Following the Muse Benefactor’s Money” New York Times Dec. 1, 2002, p. 2 “Money and Business” section)
- According to an article in New York magazine, in 1992, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute – described, then, as “the largest charitable trust in the world” – gives away more than $300 million, annually, to biomedical research and education causes. (Christopher Byron, “Pricey Advice” Dec. 21-28 1992, p. 102)
- As stated in World Press Review (May 1999 p. 19), American pop star “Michael Jackson [now deceased] is planning to contribute $100 million to build colleges in Ghana, Kenya, Tunisia, and South Africa.” (This was attributed to Independent on Sunday, London, and appeared on the “Early Warning” page – which contains very brief news info – in the now-defunct magazine World Press Review.)
- In September of 2003, I learned that Paul Allen had announced he was investing $100 million to establish a research center to map the human brain.
- An article published in The Wall Street Journal, about two brothers, Timothy and Monroe Trout, stated that “in 1994, Monroe left $20 million to the Ayn Rand Institute.” (Ann Davis, “Is Ayn Rand Fountainhead of Trout Brothers’ Rift?,” Mar. 2, 2000, p. C1)
- The New York Times, in 2004, reported that their fund-raising effort that year raised almost $8.3 million for The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund. (Kari Haskell, “8.3 Million Given to Neediest Cases Fund,” Feb. 29, 2004: 1.34)
- In 1995, a woman passed away, and bequeathed $22 million to Yeshiva University. The article mentions that “Yeshiva has received at least one larger gift – a $40-million bequest about two years ago.” (The Associated Press, “Ex-IRS Employee Gives Yeshiva University $22M,” Newsday 4 Dec. 1995: 25)
- In 1999, Gilmore and Golda Reynolds set up a foundation, endowed with $22 million, that would be entirely devoted to benefiting their small Indiana town of Osgood, with a total population of 1,800. (Reuters, “Couple’s $22M Gift To Their Hometown, Newsday 26 Nov. 1999: 7)
- One tiny news item in my collection of articles relating to philanthropy, reveals that “A London widow repaid the kindness of a couple that runs a Chinese restaurant she frequented by leaving them $21 million” in her will. (Compiled from news dispatches, Newsday 11 Dec. 2007: A28)
- A medical services organization announced plans, in 1998, to create a specially equipped train that will allow surgeons to travel throughout China to reconstruct cleft lips, cleft palates and other facial deformities. This was being made possible by a gift of $10 million from Charles Wang, and a $1 million gift from Bill Gates. Smile Train also will give operating equipment and computers to hospitals that promise to perform free surgery on one impoverished child a day. (Richard J. Dalton Jr., “LI Exec Boards the Smile Train,” Newsday Jan 27, 1998)
- An article on the passing of Frederick DeMatteis, noted that Fred and Nancy DeMatteis had contributed a significant portion of the $20-million cost of the DeMatteis Center in Old Brookville, NY, which focuses on heart disease research. (Irving Long, “Developer DeMatteis Dies,” 10 Oct. 2001: 10)
- In 1998, the Ford Foundation announced their creation of a $50 million grant program to help low-income families buy houses under a mortgage finance program. (Combined news services, “Foundation Gives $50M for Low-Income Homebuyers,” Newsday 24 Jul. 1998: 55)
- Merck & Co. pledged to donate $100 million worth of vaccines to the world’s poorest children. (Gardiner Harris, “Merck & Co. Will Pledge $100 Million Of Vaccines to World’s Poorest Children,” Wall Street Journal 2 Mar. 2000: B2)
- A very brief news item announces the auctioning off of a breakfast or tea with Alan Greenspan. The auction is to fund the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial, which supports human rights workers and campaigners. (Compiled from wire reports, Newsday 21 Mar. 2007: A42)
- This small news item announces the auctioning off of a lunch with billionaire Warren Buffet. It notes that the previous year it raised $351,000. The auction will benefit the Glide Foundation, which offers programs for the poor, hungry and homeless. (Compiled from wire reports, Newsday 8 Jun. 2006: A56)
- I saw mention in a newspaper about how “A mysterious Polish immigrant with a sixth grade education left San Francisco’s poorest citizens $2 million in a hand-scribbled will naming Mayor Willie Brown and the Board of Supervisors as executors.” (Compiled from news dispatches, “Frisco’s Poor to Get $2M,” Newsday 30 Apr. 1998: 23)
- At a dinner to raise money for Msgr. Thomas Hartman’s foundation to support Parkinson’s disease research, Agnes Funk announced she would contribute $1 million. (A.J. Carter, “The Ticker,” Newsday 21 Jun. 2004)
- Leona Helmsley contributed $1 million to the Burned Churches Fund, which was created to repair about 300 churches, mostly in the South, that have been burned in alleged racial hate crimes. In addition to the $1 million, she also pledged to match the next $500,000 raised by the fund, which already has garnered $7 million in donations. (Maggie Haberman, “Leona donates $1M to torched churches,” New York Post 29 May 1997: 16)
- Nets basketball player Dikembe Mutombo, gave $14 million for the building of a hospital in the Congo. (Barbara Barker, “Big Man, Big Heart, Newsday 13 Nov. 2002: 64)
- After winning $113 million – after taxes – in a Powerball lottery, Andrew Whittaker Jr., of West Virginia, pledged that he would tithe 10 percent to the Church of God, rehire laid-off employees, buy a helicopter and take his family on a trip to New York City. “The very first thing I’m going to do is write three checks to three pastors,” he said. “… I’m going to help my family, and then I’m going to expand my business.” He owns “several construction companies,” according to the related article that appeared in Newsday (Nedra Rhone, “Powerful Payoff,” 27 Dec. 2002: 5).
Once again, I don’t see a word about giving anything to protect and preserve the life-sustaining properties of the planet, which makes every living moment, every lottery win, every company, employee, church, helicopter, family, family trip, (etc.) possible. But this is not uncommon. Whenever I read in the paper about someone winning a big state lottery, or a multi-state lottery, I never see any mention of an intention to give to environmental causes. It’s always their family, their interests, their church, their community, their alma mater, and so forth.
- I read an article in The Wall Street Journal about Robert T. Bigelow, who has an interest in extraterrestrial life, UFOs, the hereafter, and building a hotel in outer space. According to the article, a few years after the death of his son, he and his wife gave $3.7 million to the University of Nevada, to establish the Bigelow Chair in Consciousness Studies. The article states that “it is a rotating chair that goes to prominent life-after-death researchers.” (Neal Templin, “Robert Bigelow, Patron of UFO Investigators, Is Shooting for the Stars,” 23 Aug. 1999: 1)
- As reported in Newsday, Google Inc. announced a “plan to fund a $30-million prize to the first private company that can safely land a robotic rover on the moon and beam back a gigabyte of images and video.” (This appeared as a caption to a photo, in the business section, 17 Sept. 2007: A45)
- I also read about how David A. Duffield, President and Chief Executive Officer of PeopleSoft Inc., had established a $200 million foundation to end the euthanasia of stray dogs and cats in America. (Quentin Hardy, “A Software Star Sees Its ‘Family’ Culture Turn Dysfunctional, Wall Street Journal 5 May 1999: 1)
- Miles Blackwell – former chairman of Blackwell’s of Oxford, one of Britain’s oldest bookshops – died and left all his money, $15 million, to an organization devoted to rare breeds of sheep. (Post Wire Services, “Sheep inherit $15M,” New York Post 12 Nov. 2001)
- An article titled “’Miser’ Leaves $9M Legacy,” describes a man who lived in an unheated house, and could be seen pedaling a bicycle around town, collecting bottles and cans for their deposit refund value. Upon his death, it was reported that he had willed $9 million to social-service agencies in southern Oregon, including the YMCA, the Salvation Army, the American Red Cross, and nonprofit organizations that benefit cats. (The Associated Press, Newsday 31 Jan. 2000: 15)
- Another article reports that a foundation started by the late Harold Alfond (founder of Dexter Shoe Co.), who never attended college himself, will now make every child born in Maine eligible to receive a $500 college nest egg. According to this brief news item, “Since there are roughly 14,000 babies born each year in Maine, the foundation anticipates paying out about $7 million a year.” (Compiled from news dispatches, Newsday 12 Dec. 2007: A34)
- They have since discontinued the practice, but, every week, in the Sunday edition of The New York Times, in the “Sunday Styles” section, there used to be a page with the heading “Evening Hours,” by Bill Cunningham, which contained information pertaining to some of the most recent fund-raising events held in the New York City area. It would include information such as how much money was raised, and for what particular cause(s). There would also be numerous photos, along with the names of the photographed attendees. Every time I’ve ever looked at this page, I’ve seen the same pattern emerge. There are approximately a dozen events covered, and only rarely would I see anything even remotely related to “saving the planet.” Everything is “people, people, people.” Where is the concern for the biosphere? It’s nowhere on our radar screen.
Some examples of events I’ve seen included over the years, in this weekly column: The Metropolitan Opera’s On Stage annual corporate benefit raised $1.7 million; Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City raised $1.35 million; the New York Historical Society, with 375 guests attending, raised $700,000; Chess-in-the-Schools raised $1 million; the Breast Cancer Research Foundation raised over $1 million; the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, attended by 525 guests, raised $775,000; the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, raised $2 million; the National Arts Awards Gala raised $600,000; the Black Leadership Forum raised $500,000; and on and on (…) [These particular examples come from the columns that appeared on 10/24/99, 4/23/00, and 11/24/02.]
- Also, I have a page from The New York Times (Oct. 10, 1999) which provides information on upcoming “Benefits.” It has 24 listed. How many of these are related to environmental issues? Just one third, of one single event! The event – marking the 25th anniversary of People magazine – benefited Communities in Schools, the National Woman’s Cancer Research Alliance, and the Wilderness Society.
- A full-page ad, in Newsday (Oct. 16, 2002 p. 55), describes an annual one-day event called “The Share-A-Meal Program,” in which 72 regional restaurants participated. The proprietors donate 10% of each bill, to Long Island Cares, and The Interfaith Nutrition Network, to provide food for more than 530 neighborhood soup kitchens, food pantries, senior citizen centers and child care centers. Again, I am not suggesting that any of the causes I’ve mentioned here in this section are bad causes, I’m just illustrating how disproportionately philanthropic dollars are aimed at “people-causes,” as opposed to “environmental causes.”
- I also have in my collection a full-two-pages-long ad that appeared in Newsday (Aug. 3, 2003 p. 24-5), with two-inch-high print, declaring: “THANKS A $100 MILLION.” It describes how the Target chain of retail stores has donated over $100 million to schools. It explains that every time a customer uses a particular payment option, Target makes a donation to the school of that customer’s choice. Then it lists almost 200 regional schools it says has benefited the most.
- In a King Kullen (the grocery store chain) full-page ad in Newsday (Dec. 23, 2001, p. 31), it lists some of “the many charities and not-for-profit organizations that we have donated to throughout this past year.” Not all are readable, because some are obscured by the design of the ad. And the total amount dispensed isn’t mentioned. But one thing is clear. It does demonstrate a clear disparity in regard to their philanthropy. Of the approximately 250 or so groups listed, I only spotted two that are environmental in nature: the Nature Conservancy, and Citizens Campaign for the Environment (a group I once worked for).
Regarding the Nature Conservancy, their particular problem-solving approach, as I understand it, focuses primarily on habitat protection and preservation. It thus does not really address, for example, issues such as overpopulation, or our tremendously tunnel vision-like anthropocentric entitlement mindset, which are responsible for so much of the ecological destruction that we see taking place all around the world. This is a problem I see often. I never see a comprehensive, in-depth, holistic approach towards addressing all environmental problems, simultaneously. But that is exactly the approach that we need to be taking.
- On March 3, 2002, the Daily News included a five-pages-long advertising supplement, titled “2002 Guide to Giving.” I took the time to tally everything listed on these pages (p. 39-43). Here are the totals, page by page, respectively: 9; 26; 1 (a full-page ad for United Way of New York City); 29 (here, I counted 15 separate 9/11-related charities, as just 1 charity); 30. So the total number of charities or organizations represented comes to 95. How many of these are related to “saving the planet?” Not one! In fact, the only one that doesn’t fall within that “people-problems” category, is The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
- In short, to sum up this next article from my collection – which explains how the Aaron Diamond Foundation got its name, and how the more than $200 million would be spent: nothing for environmental causes; but over $200 million for non-environmental causes. Specifically, 40 percent would go towards minority education, another 40 percent would go towards medical research and 20 percent would be directed towards cultural programs. (Laurie Garrett, “The Diamonds of AIDS Research,” Newsday 12 Nov. 1996: B26):
- In an article that appeared in the Daily News (Michael Saul, “Bloomy to keep on giving,” 25 Nov. 2001), soon after billionaire media mogul Michael Bloomberg became the Mayor-elect of New York City, it states that he had donated more than $100 million to nearly 600 charitable organizations, in 2000, and expects to by year’s end have donated even more in 2001. It says he “focuses his philanthropy on educational, medical and cultural organizations.”
- An article that appeared in Newsday, in 2002 (Bart Jones, “Ready to Give Back,” 21 Mar. 2002), details the charitable giving of David Ochoa and his wife Mykra Gonzales: $1.25 million would endow a scholarship fund for Latino students at Dowling College in Oakdale; they also donated what would eventually amount to $1 million to the Congressional Church of Patchogue, and $500,000 to the Suffolk County Boy Scouts; and gave immediate cash gifts of $25,000 to the Urban League and $30,000 to Hofstra Law School to create a Latino student scholarship fund in Gonzales’s name.
- “How the Other Half Gives,” an article that appeared in the “Money and Business” section of The New York Times (Geraldine Fabrikant and Shelby White, Dec. 20, 1998: 1) surveyed the charitable giving of a sampling of some of the best-paid chief executives, running some of our nation’s biggest companies. The article focuses on the charitable giving of twelve chief executives – of companies such as Walt Disney, Citigroup, Colgate-Palmolive, SunAmerica, I.B.M., and General Electric. This article is brimming with examples of giving to non-environmental causes. There are dozens of causes, charities and foundations specifically mentioned in the article, accounting for over $400 million in money gifted, and I did not see a single one that ties in with environmentalism (in my view). The closest I could come to finding one possibly fitting that description, would be this: “In Chattanooga, he [Coca-Cola Chairman Summerfield Johnson Jr.] is on the board of the University of Chattanooga Foundation and has given grants for research on the blighted American chestnut tree and to endow professorships.” Considering that the American chestnut tree is just one species, out of an estimated 10-30 million species on this planet, and considering the scope of our environmental woes, I have a hard time categorizing this as an example of environmental giving.
Here are some more examples of their philanthropic giving: Michael Eisner put Disney shares worth about $116 million into his personal foundation, which he said would help needy children and children with learning disabilities; Sanford Weill gave $100 million to Cornell University, which renamed its medical school the Joan and Sanford I. Weill Medical College and Graduate School of Medical Sciences; Eugene M. Isenberg’s prime cause is education, and the major beneficiary has been his alma mater, the University of Massachusetts; John Welch Jr’s largest single gift from his $6.2 million foundation was $25,000 to the Sankaty Head Foundation (which provides college scholarships for caddies at the Sankaty Head Golf Club).
- What did President Barack Obama do with the $1.4 million that was awarded along with his Nobel prize? It all went to 10 charities. The largest sum went to Fisher House (which provides shelter for families of wounded military personnel), the next largest sum went to the earthquake relief Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund, six separate groups that help kids go to college shared $750,000, and AfriCare and the Central Asia Institute each got $100,000. Not a single penny for any environmental causes!
- An April 15, 2006 article in Newsday, states that President George W. Bush reported adjusted gross income of $735,180 for the previous year, and further states that the couple contributed $75,560 to churches and charities. This included donations to: the Red Cross and the Salvation Army’s funds for hurricane relief in the United States and earthquake aid in Pakistan; Martha’s Table, which provides services to the underprivileged in Washington; the Archdiocese of New Orleans Catholic Charities; and the Mississippi Food Network. (AP “Taxpayer in chief files his ‘05 return,” Newsday 15 Apr. 2006: A2)
- Some of the proceeds of Jenna Bush’s nonfiction young adults book, Ana’s Story: A Journey of Hope, will be donated to the U.S. fund for UNICEF. (“1st daughter’s 1st book,” Newsday 7 Mar. 2007: A10) [There is no by-line, but information contained within the article credits the Associated Press.]
- Here’s how an article in The New York Times “Metro Section” (Tina Kelly, “Wouldn’t-Be Millionaire Leaves Mark on Town,” Apr. 30, 2000 p. 1) starts out: “Eleanor Boyer, the Somerville, N.J., retiree who won the state lottery in 1997 and promptly vowed to give it all away, has been true to her word.” With her $11.8 million in winnings, she erased the deficit of the local rescue squad, contributed generously to the Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, where she attends Mass daily, and helped build additions to two schools affiliated with the church.
- As reported in The New York Times (Stephanie Strom, “An Organ Donor’s Generosity Raises the Question of How Much Is Too Much” 17 Aug. 2003: 1.14), Zell Kravinsky takes the definition of charity to a new level. He donated a kidney to a total stranger, and poses an interesting philosophical question, which rationalizes donating his other kidney as well: “What if someone needed it who could produce more good than me? What if I was a perfect match for a dying scientist who was the intellectual driving force behind a breakthrough cure for cancer or AIDS or on the brink of unlocking the secrets of cell regeneration?”
Mr. Kravinsky has a wife and four children, and although the Kravinskys have already given away $15 million, he has promised to give away virtually everything the family has. Money has already been set aside for his children’s college education, they live very modestly in “a slightly dilapidated-looking house they bought for $141,600,” and receive rental income from property he owns. In fact, that is how he made his fortune, by buying up housing units around the University of Pennsylvania campus, when he was a lecturer teaching Renaissance literature.
The article states that beneficiaries of his past philanthropy have included a school for disturbed children, the Centers for Disease Control and the Ohio State University School of Public Health. Then, in brackets, it adds: “On Friday the Ohio State University School of Public Health announced an additional $30 million gift from the Kravinskys.”
- An article in Newsday (John Hanc, “He’s running the world over for charity,” 16 Jul. 2002: B3), describes how Fred Lipsky, a Suffolk County, NY, police sergeant, raised $70,000 by running marathons on seven continents. The money will benefit “Fred’s Team,” a fund-raising arm of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan, named after New York City Marathon founder Fred Lebrow.
- I also have some old literature pertaining to Long Island United Way (probably from before 1999). United Way is a charitable organization that is very successful at raising money. It is also, in my opinion, a perfect illustration of how environmental concerns are never on our radar. The pamphlet states “LI’s United Way is Helping Where Help is Needed Most, The Nine Targeted Care Service Areas” are:
- Youth Development Programs … in 41 United Way-Funded Agencies
- Helping the Disabled … at 31 United Way-Funded Agencies
- Helping the Abused & Neglected … through 28 United Way-Funded Agencies
- Health & Mental Health Services … in 77 United Way-Funded Agencies
- Meeting Food & Housing Needs … at 37 United Way-Funded Agencies
- Responding to the Needs of Long Island’s Families & Elderly … in 73 United Way-funded agencies
- Assisting Long Island’s Unemployed … through 46 United Way agencies
- Supporting Drug & Alcohol Treatment Prevention … at 36 United Way-funded agencies
- Providing Child Day Care … in 28 United Way-funded programs
That makes a total of 397 separate “agencies” or such, and none of them represent environmental causes.
- Information accompanying an article in The New York Times Magazine, in 1996 (under the page heading “Charity Winners and Losers,” Dec. 22, 1996: 43), states that Americans gave away $144 billion, throughout the previous year, and includes a pie chart (under the heading “What Gets How Much”) showing, proportionally, where that money went. “Environment/Wildlife” is the second smallest slice of the pie (garnering only $3.98 billion, or 2.8 percent of the total charity given that year to all causes). Comparatively speaking, “Religion” did quite well – it garnered over $63 billion (representing 44.1 percent of the total pie chart).
(The article states that the chart data is from “Giving U.S.A.,” is published by the American Association of Fund-Raising Counsel Trust for Philanthropy, and it further states that additional research was provided by Amy Finnerty.)
- Another newspaper clipping in my collection, states that according to ParishPay LLC co-founder and vice president Andrew Goldberger, Catholic churches collect $35 billion a year from the practice of passing around the collection plate. (Mark Harrington, “Automated Tithing Start-up Bypasses the Plate,” Newsday 30 Oct. 2001)
- The following is from a page of “Death Notices” that I pulled at random, from Newsday (this one happens to be from Wednesday, May 28, 2008, p. A39). There are 40 death notices. Of those, 21 say something like the following: “In lieu of flowers, please make donations to” followed by something specific (like “the Cooley’s Anemia Foundation”) or something non-specific (like “Cancer Research”). Of the 24 (two suggest multiple options for giving) potential recipients for donations, none of these have anything to do with environmentalism. Here are some of the ones that are mentioned: the Hospices of the Treasure Coast; the Trinity Lutheran Church Organ Fund; Good Shepherd Hospice; East End Hospice; St. Hyacinth Church; the American Cancer Society; Niagra Hospice; the Catholic Relief Services; the NYU Cancer Institute; the Long Island State Veterans Home; the American Cancer Society; Time Out Adult Day Care Center; Parkinson’s Disease Foundation; St. Jude’s Children Hospital; the Pulmonary Hypertension Association; the Lung Cancer Society of Long Island; Catholic Charities.
(I should also note that at the bottom of the page it says “continued on Page 37.” While I do not have that page, the page I am quoting from above goes all the way up to a name beginning with “V,” so the continuation of this list would likely be brief.)
- Another article in my “philanthropy” collection (“Gift TVs Fulfill Woman’s Vision,” Newsday 1 Apr. 1998: 6) is about a woman who left her $1.8 million estate to six groups: the A. Holly Patterson Geriatric Center, the Salvation Army, the Association for the Help of Retarded Children, the Congregational Church of Manhasset, the Industrial Home for the Blind, and the Plattdeutsche Old Folks Home. [No by-line was provided with this article.]
- As stated in The New York Times (Stephanie Strom, “How a Goat Led a Girl Up the Path to an Education,” 25 Jan. 2004: 1.16), Heiffer International – a charitable organization that provides indigent families around the world with livestock – was able to raise $56 million in 2003, thanks to the publicity resulting from Beatrice’s Goat, a popular children’s book.
- After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, contributions poured in at such an unprecedented rate that nearly $1 billion had been raised within just the first month after the attacks. Jim Carrey, Sandra Bullock, Rosie O’Donnell, rapper Dr. DRE each gave $1 million. Julia Roberts gave $2 million. Leona Helmsley gave $5 million. Omnicom Group gave $3 million. Apollo Group Inc., and NRG Energy Inc. each gave $1 million. Deutsche Bank AG gave $9 million. The Eli Lily endowment pledged $31 million. Exxon Mobil pledged $20 million. Citigroup pledged $15 million. Together with the McCormick Tribune Foundation, Newsday raised $10 million. And all of this was raised within just the first month after the attacks. (The Associated Press, “America’s Ordeal / $150M Tribute / Stars’ telethon raises millions for victims’ kin,” Newsday 25 Sept. 2001: 9)
- An article in Newsday entitled “One man’s fight to eliminate terrorism” (Andrew Strickler, 21 Dec. 2006: A3), describes how Ronald Bruder, a Jewish businessman, in New York City, in 2002, started a foundation, with $10 million of his own money, to help young Muslims. The goal of his Education for Employment Foundation, the article states, is to “teach valuable post-graduate skills to young educated people in Muslim countries with few job prospects, whom Bruder and others believe” are among those facing the greatest risk “of turning to extremism.”
- Another article describes actor William Shatner’s goal of raising $10 million to promote “therapeutic riding” – placing injured people on horseback to help them improve their conditions – in Israel (though the program will also be open to Palestinians, Jordanians and Egyptians). (“His next enterprise: Riding to heal in Israel,” Newsday 30 May 2006: A11) [No by-line is provided with this article, but within the text it credits The Associated Press for some of the reporting.]
Incidentally, it is worth noting, that on the very same page that this appeared, there is also the weekly “Box Office” column. This column lists the top ten motion pictures, based on estimated ticket sales at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations. Al Gore’s documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” made it’s limited debut, and took in an estimated $365,787. While, combined, the top ten motion pictures for that same week took in just over $225 million. What sells at the movies? What do people go to see? Fiction, science fiction, fantasy, animation, action-adventure, pure escapism, nothing to really stimulate deep meaningful thought in the direction of substantive environmentalism. [There is also no by-line provided with this column.]
- “You are not a scholar, as demonstrated by your work in this particular class. And by your demeanor in and out of class you have demonstrated that you are not a gentleman, and that is the more severe of the two.” Those were the words directed at James Dye, by his Washington and Lee University chemistry professor, in 1931. He flunked out of college. Now, fast forward 65 years, and we learn that this “eccentric son of an Oklahoma oil supplier” – as The New York Times article I am quoting from describes him – bequeathed $11 million to that same university. Mr. Dye left what else remained of his $22 million estate to a list of beneficiaries that included the National Rifle Association, the Salvation Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force Benevolent Fund. (“65 Years Later, an $11 Million Bequest From a Failed Student,” 8 Dec. 1996: 37) [The by-line is The New York Times.]
- Another thing I see repeatedly, again and again, is when someone wins big in a lottery, rarely if ever does any of that money appear to go towards environmental causes. Here’s another example. I read about how Dr. Laurent Pierre-Phillippe planned to use his $10 million Florida lottery winnings to save his ailing 20-year-old health clinic, located in a poor Baltimore community, and to help build an airport and roads in his Haitian hometown, Port-de-Paix. (The Associated Press, “Lottery Winner to Save Clinic,” Newsday 12 Jan. 1997: 30)
- Another article describes how David L. Rush, after winning a lump sum payment of $14.3 million in the Florida lottery, donated $100,000 to the Salvation Army, $100,000 to Habitat for Humanity, and $50,000 to the Rotary Club of Marco Island. It should be noted, however, that the Salvation Army – an evangelical Christian organization — did not accept the $100,000, because its local leader would not take money associated with gambling. (The Associated Press, “Salvation Army Turns Down $100G Lottery Gift,” Newsday 2 Jan. 2003: 32)
- Former Secretary of State Colin Powell donates $1 million to a policy studies center named after him at his alma mater, the City College of New York. The article also states that he has given to the college before, including “more than $350,000 for a scholarship named after his parents.” (The Associated Press, “Powell gives $1 M to school,” Newsday 4 May 2006: A18)
- Actress Drew Barrymore announced she was donating $1 million to the World Food Programme, a U.N. body that delivers food aid around the world. (“Drew’s $1M food fight,” Newsday 4 Mar. 2008: A10) [There is no by-line but the article credits The Associated Press for some of the information being reported.]
- I can go on and on and on, citing hundreds and hundreds of additional articles relating to philanthropy, but they are all just more of the same. Hardly a word is ever mentioned about giving to environmental causes. But let me mention just one more. This is from a Liz Smith column, which appeared in Newsday (“New York’s First Lady,” Mar. 29, 2002: A15). It was devoted exclusively to one topic: Brooke Astor. The caption under Astor’s photo reads: “The legendary philanthropist turns 100 tomorrow.” Here is the part of the columnist’s interview with Astor, which relates to philanthropy:
Smith: How much money did you give to New York causes?
Astor: When Vincent died [her husband died in 1959], he left $67 million in my hands. I tried to do my best with it. I think I gave away about $250 million.
Smith: Are you through with philanthropy now that you describe yourself as one of the new poor?
Astor: I am thinking of getting involved with some African-American charities concerned with libraries, education and literacy.
Once again, here is another example of where there is no mention regarding environmental concerns.
Looking over this article again, the phrase “New York causes” caught my attention; and I thought to myself: “Hmmm, what is one of the most important things to New Yorkers? Isn’t it, quite literally, the air we breathe? After all, how long would we survive without oxygen? And where does that oxygen come from? Doesn’t it result from photosynthesis? Then shouldn’t we protect forests, and oceans.” This line of questioning – along with other valid points we can raise, concerning the importance of our water, food, and so forth – justifies supporting environmental causes, and justifies protecting the biosphere. That is what keeps all of us alive, every moment that we are alive.
In fairness, let me now discuss the articles in my philanthropy collection which deal with contributions, wherein all or a portion thereof, went towards environmental causes:
- I saw a list of “The top recipients of private support for 2000” (Source: The Chronicle of Philanthropy) published in The New York Times, with a related article (Tamar Lewin, “Charity Fund for Investors Moves Higher on Philanthropy List,” 28 Oct. 2001: 1A.20). Here are the top ten from the list: (1) Salvation Army, $1,440,442,000; (2) Fidelity Charitable Gift Funds, $1,087,748,356; (3) Y.M.C.A., $812,098,000; (4) American Cancer Society, $746,391,000; (5) Lutheran Services in America, $710,263,416; (6) American Red Cross, $637,664,249; (7) Gifts in Kind International, $601,926,952; (8) Stanford University, $580,473,838; (9) Harvard University, $485,238,498; (10) Nature Conservancy, $445,326,081.
It is worth noting that only one environmental group is included on this list; and it is at the very bottom! I will also note that it is my understanding that the work that particular group focuses on, is primarily focused on habitat protection and preservation. A very legitimate question to ask, regarding land preservation, is this: Is the land that the Nature Conservancy buys and owns really safe from development, if the total human world population continues to keep going up, another billion, another billion, another billion, and so forth? And although buying habitat is good (to protect it from development), what if acid rain, or other forms of pollution, irreparably alter it? In other words, my point is that if we are not also going after the root causes of why it is necessary to strive towards protecting habitat, in the first place, then what good is buying or receiving ownership of that land? Are we truly protecting it, or just buying some time? I believe these are legitimate questions to ask, if we are to ever hope to eventually get on the right path towards saving this planet. I also looked up Nature Conservancy on Wikipedia, and among the criticisms mentioned towards the end of the article, it states that it has been criticized for being too close to business. Indeed, the article mentions that this environmental group’s “governing board consists of numerous executives and directors of oil companies, chemical producers, auto manufacturers, mining concerns, logging operations, and electric utilities.” I also did some more Googling, and learned about a book written by Christine MacDonald, entitled Green Inc.: An Environmental Insider Reveals How a Good Cause Has Gone Bad. That looks like an interesting book to take a look at.
Incidentally, on the same page on which this article appeared, another, much smaller article, reports that the long-time chairman and founder of Intel Corporation, Gordon Moore, and his wife Betty, have given the California Institute of Technology $600 million.
- Hewlett-Packard co-founder David Packard died in 1996, at age 83; but when he was 74 years old, and bedridden after surgery, he wrote an eight-page letter to his four children, explaining what he thought his foundation’s top priority should be. According to a Wall Street Journal article (George Anders, “Giving Away $9 Billion Isn’t Easy: Just Ask The Packard Children,” 6 Mar. 1998: 1), in the letter, while endorsing his well-known interests – conservation, science and the arts – he reserved his passion for a more controversial issue: curbing population growth must become the foundation’s highest priority. The article quotes his son David as stating that his father felt that “all the progress we had made toward a better society was going to be destroyed if there were too many people.”
The foundation became a crucial backer of groups such as Planned Parenthood, Population Action International and the Alan Guttmacher Institute. This article mentioned that the foundation was funding everything from media campaigns to inform women about emergency contraceptives, to distribution of oral contraceptives in Vietnam, and supporting abortion training in Ethiopia and Uganda. All the while, having to delicately steer through controversial issues such as abortion, woman’s rights, and the propriety of outsiders trying to influence Third World nations.
In addition to pouring money into population control, the article mentions that the Packard children had “taken a modest land-conservation program that traditionally spends about $3 million a year and transformed it into a giant initiative that will spend $175 million in California over the next five years.”
- Remember when I had previously stated that Warren Buffet had announced a gift of 10 million shares of his stock – worth nearly $31 billion – to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation? Well, that was not the full extent of his philanthropic giving that day. As another article (Timothy L. O’Brien and Stephanie Saul, “Buffet to Give Bulk of Fortune to Gates Charity,” New York Times 26 Jun. 2006: A1, A15) points out, he also gave money to a foundation named after his wife, and gave money to foundations run by his children.
All told, Warren Buffet’s philanthropic giving that day amounted to the equivalent of about $37.4 billion. But of that grand sum, only approximately $1.5 billion will be going towards “environmental and conservation issues.” [The four foundations that the approximately $6 billion in stock will be divided among – the Susan Thompson Buffet Foundation, the Howard G. Buffet Foundation, the Susan A. Buffet Foundation, and the NoVo Foundation – focus on the following concerns, respectively: family planning, abortion rights and anti-nuclear proliferation; environmental and conservation issues; educational opportunities for low-income children; education and human rights.]
- According to a brief news item that appeared in Newsday (compiled from news dispatches, “Intel Exec Pledges $261M,” Newsday 10 Dec. 2001: 16), a foundation set up by Intel Corp. co-founder Gordon Moore, pledged $261 million to go to Conservation International. This money will, the article states, “help researchers identify and protect biodiversity hot spots, areas that cover 1.4 percent of the Earth but are home to more than 60 percent of its terrestrial species.” The article further states that according to Moore “his interest in the environment stems from the changes he noticed while returning to favorite vacation spots in Mexico over the years.”
- An article that appeared in The New York Times Magazine (Jon Bowermaster, “Take This Park and Love It, 3 Sept. 1995: 24, 26), discusses Douglas Tompkins’ acquisition of 670,000 acres of pristine woodland in Chile, for $12 million. He intends to create the largest private park in the world, and eventually hand it over to Chile’s national park system – but as the article describes, he faces stiff opposition, from a country “hellbent on development.”
- An article in The New York Times (John Tierney, “Maybe a Cool $25 Million Will Lead to a Climate Backup Plan” 13 Feb. 2007: page 1, science section), reports on Richard Branson’s offering of a $25 million prize to anyone who can discover a way to remove a billion tons of carbon dioxide per year from the atmosphere. The article opines that “As far-reaching as it seems today, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere could turn out to be a lot more practical than the alternative: persuading six billion people to stop putting it there.” (While offering prize money isn’t normally considered an act of philanthropy, at least in its purest sense, I’ve concluded that this fits best in the Philanthropy section.)
- A 2003 New York Times article (Timothy Egan, “Quiet Philanthropist Recasts Seattle, With a Classical Soundtrack,” 9 March 2003: N20) describes Priscilla Bullitt Collins’s Bullitt Foundation, as “one of the nation’s largest environmental philanthropies.” It states that when she first started giving away the Bullitt family money, she went down a somewhat traditional path, donating to the symphony, the art museum, theaters and the library. She was trying to honor relatives, most of them dead, who liked the fine arts more than she did.
To indulge her interest in classical music, she – together with her sister – bought KING-FM, the classical music station in her native Seattle, and gave it to a trust set up to ensure that classical music will always be on the air.
Her passions, according to the article, include the outdoors, history, and the education of girls in countries where schooling is largely limited to boys.
The article states that she has given millions to preserve and ensure continued stewardship of pockets of nature close to cities in the Pacific Northwest. The Trust for PublicLand and the Nature Conservancy have been the two primary beneficiaries, and they will get much of her estate when she dies.
- As reported in Newsday (The Associated Press, “A Mountain of a Donation,” 23 Dec. 2002: 22), just days before Christmas, 2002, Tennessee’s then-newly-elected senator and former governor, Lamar Alexander, and several of his neighbors – including Sandy Beall, founder of the Ruby Tuesday restaurant chain – announced a conservation easement in which they were giving away millions of dollars in development rights for a 769-acre tract of land bordering the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in Tennessee. Altogether, the national park covers over half a million acres, in Tennessee and North Carolina, and is described as being the country’s most visited, with nearly 10 million tourists a year.
Though the property will continue to be owned by Alexander and his associates, the right to subdivide it will be transferred to the Foothills Land Conservancy and The Conservation Fund. According to the article, the Foothills Land Conservancy is a 1,500-member organization devoted to preserving the rural character of East Tennessee, and has protected 13,350 acres of forest and farm land since its founding in 1985.
- Another article I have (Carole Paquette, “A Land Gift Comes With a Big Bonus: Clean Water,” New York Times 13 Jul. 2003: 11.7) describes how Margaret de Cuevas and Deborah Carmichael, cousins whose families once owned about 350 acres in the Stony Hill region of Amagansett, New York, donated two parcels of land – 239 acres, in a critical aquifer recharge area vital to East Hampton’s drinking water supply – to the Peconic Land Trust.
The article quotes Lee E. Koppelman, executive director of the Long Island Regional Planning Board, and a former Suffolk County planning director, as stating “The importance of this acquisition cannot be overstated … This is one of the highest forms of citizenship. The donors could easily have sold to developers” for a significant profit. It is mentioned that this land might easily be worth $65 million, and the average price for a home in that area has more than doubled in the past year.
Ms. De Cuevas, a cell biologist and assistant professor at the University of Maryland, understood that the true value of the land could not be measured in terms of dollars and cents. “We bought it with the intention of preserving it. We can’t give it back to the creatures who live there so the best thing was the Peconic Land Trust.”
- Actor Woody Harrelson, according to a 1998 Liz Smith column (“Tree Cheers for Woody, Newsday 30 Dec. 1998: 13), gave $1 million to Oasis Preserve International, which helps fight the destruction of tropical rain forests.
Five years earlier – also from a Liz Smith column (“Christian’s New Art,” Newsday 16 Nov. 1993: 13) – I read about how actor Christian Slater planned to donate his entire “Interview With the Vampire” salary ($250,000) to two of River Phoenix’s favorite charities (Earth Save of Santa Cruz, and Earth Trust of Malibu). Phoenix was to have had that role, but died of a drug overdose.
- An article in The New York Times (Carey Goldberg, “Computer Age Millionaires Redefine Philanthropy,” 6 Jul. 1997: 1, 9), back in 1997, delved into the topic of how the soaring value of Microsoft stock was fueling an increased interest in philanthropy among Microsoft employees, many of whom were exercising their stock options. According to the article, this new generation of givers “tend to want to support education – their own key to success – and environmental causes, and share a certain belief in technology as salvation.”
According to this article, one group of former Microsoft employees (who chose to remain anonymous), back the Wilburforce Foundation, which gives away $2 million a year – and mainly supports Pacific Northwest groups, working on habitat conservation.
- Let me start by pointing out that in the first of these next two articles I will now discuss (Allen R. Myerson, “Techies Discover the Joys of Giving,” and “Sharing their Talents and Their Dollars,” New York Times 31 Jan. 1999: 1, 11), the three biggest contributions mentioned are all going to causes entirely unrelated to environmentalism (building an interactive rock music museum; providing Internet access to libraries in poorer communities; and children’s vaccinations): $250 million; $100 million; and $100 million (respectively).
Here are the two examples of environmental giving contained within this first article: Paul Allen gave $12 million to the Paul G. Allen Forest Protection Foundation; and Paul Brainerd’s Brainerd Foundation “gives about $2 million a year to environmental causes in the Northwest.”
The other of these two articles didn’t mention any environmental giving at all. It did, however, mention over $29 million going towards non-environmental causes.
- The next article I should mention (Stephanie Strom, “In Vast Philanthropy, Kerry’s Wife Wields Sway,” New York Times 9 May 2004: 1, 18), is one which examines the role Teresa Heinz Kerry plays in managing the Heinz Endowment – which gave away $54.5 million in 2003 – and the Heinz Family Philanthropies. The subject of “environmental” giving does come up. But I didn’t really see anything that I would regard as “environmental,” in any real, substantive sense. For example, it is mentioned early on that the city of Pittsburgh has more environmentally sound buildings (buildings certified as green buildings), than any other city in the country, thanks in large part to the Heinz Endowments. But “green buildings” aren’t the first thing to come to mind when I think about environmentalism. Would it really make much of a difference if every building in the world were “green,” but our anthropocentric entitlement mindset and lifestyle remained virtually unchanged – and billions more are born.
The article also mentions that “Mrs. Heinz Kerry helped assemble $60 million to serve some 7,600 preschoolers,” but the program was discontinued three years later, after $34 million had been spent, due to too-low of an enrollment (only 680 children enrolled).
The article states that “part of the philanthropy Mrs. Heinz Kerry oversees supports advocacy on issues ranging from women’s economic security to drug costs to environmental policy,” but it doesn’t give examples of the latter, other than “green buildings,” and support for the League of Conservation Voters.
- This next article I will cite, comes from The New York Times (Kevin Sack, “Charity of Relative Newcomers Rivals Gifts to Atlanta From Old-Timers,” 16 Dec. 2001: 32). The article discusses charitable gifts to the city of Atlanta. Bernard Marcus, one of the founders of Home Depot, announced he would donate $200 million to build a world-class aquarium in Atlanta. (He also had purchased a football franchise, for $545 million.) Another founder of the Home Depot chain, Arthur M. Blank, has pledged $15 million toward the construction of a symphony hall, and his foundation will also spend up to $30 million over the next three years “to preserve urban green space.” That doesn’t exactly sound to me like the Amazon, or the Adirondacks. “Urban green,” to me, sounds a bit like an oxymoron (kind of like “green buildings”).
- In 2006, on a page devoted to celebrity news, Newsday reported that actress Angelina Jolie has pledged up to $1.3 million over five years, for a forest conservation project in Cambodia (“Pitt, Jolie spend holiday in Vietnam” 24 Nov. 2006: A19) [There is no by-line for this article but it does credit The Associated Press for some of the information being reported.]
In conclusion, what I’ve hoped to accomplish in this section is to illustrate some very important key points. For example: (a) we give very disproportionately to “people-problems,” as opposed to “planet problems”; (b) “planet-problems” rarely ever show up on our “radar screen” (enter our consciousness); (c) and when we do give to “environmental” causes, (1) there is a whole broad range of vital environmental issues that are hardly receiving any funding at all, (2) because our focus is instead so disproportionately centered around the issue of land preservation (probably because that is so much easier of an environmental issue to deal with – it requires very little thought, and no imagination – compared to the labyrinthine complexities inherent in addressing other environmental issues, such as waste accumulation and pollution, for example).
Towards the end of this Part II section, I’ve shared examples of philanthropy being aimed towards “environmental” causes, but only one of these recognized overpopulation as being the serious issue that it is. Most of the examples of giving to environmental causes, by far, have to do with land preservation, conservation easements, and the like. If that remains the extent of our imagination – with regard to eco-philanthropy – then surely we will lose the battle to save the planet. There are so many key environmental issues that I’ve literally never seen addressed, in any of the thousands of articles I’ve seen relating to the subject of philanthropic giving.
While supporting initiatives that help to redress human overpopulation, habitat destruction, and overdevelopment, is commendable, such initiatives do not in any way get at the root causes of complicated, far-reaching issues such as waste (municipal, industrial, military, hospital, nuclear, incinerator, farm and animal) accumulation, and pollution.
The situation is very grim, indeed (see the Problems section, for lots of specific examples). Clearly, the realm of philanthropy, out of necessity, has a duty, and an obligation, to use its disproportionate ability to effectuate change, to lead us away from an age of entitlement, towards an age of enlightenment. But first, the realm of philanthropy needs to undergo this change within itself.
What can be done? See the Solutions section. And don’t miss the part near the end, where I give examples of how public and private research dollars could be much better spent.
Let me also point out something that you should be very wary of. Whenever you see the stand-alone word “environment,” used without elaboration or specificity, to describe philanthropic giving, you should be very, very skeptical. The word “environment,” alone, is simply far too vague. And since it means different things to different people, don’t automatically assume this means money is going to a genuine environmental cause. For example, some people see nuclear power as a “green,” environmentally-friendly alternative to fossil fuels – while completely ignoring the fact that the radioactive waste being generated must be secured from dangers imposed by terrorists, unstable regimes, governmental changes, saboteurs, suicidal or disgruntled employees, human error, earthquakes, and other potential natural events, for some 250,000 years (depending upon which types of radioactive material are being stored).
“Environment” may be an in word, but it is often tossed about by people who are wholly ignorant concerning the environmental crises confronting humankind; and let’s face it, most people are wholly ignorant concerning the extent of the environmental crises confronting mankind. Regarding Earth Day, for instance, that day usually seems to get reduced down to something more akin to “Let’s-Pick-Up-Litter-On-the-Beach Day.” In fact, we probably need to create two separate, distinct terms, to better differentiate between the two vastly different types of “environmental” giving. Sometimes, this simply means community beautification – which could mean painting walls, adding park benches, and so forth (which have absolutely nothing to do with reducing the size of our ecological “footprint,” eliminating or reducing pollution, or protecting endangered species and natural resources).
In closing, I would like to quote from an article that was published in National Geographic magazine (“Saving the Chesapeake,” June 2005), about the ecologically troubled Chesapeake Bay (the largest estuary in the United States). It is described as “the ecological equivalent of a morbidly obese person, force-fed nitrogen and phosphorus.” According to Tom Horton, who wrote the piece, “more than a million people are added to the region every decade.” He questions whether the people have the will to save the Chesapeake. Then, using an analogy that could also serve to describe how the public at large feels about environmentalism in general, he writes: “Public support often seems like the estuary itself, impressively broad but deceptively shallow.” I love that metaphor. It is so right on target, and so succinct. No one ever says that they’re not for a clean environment. But our words and our actions can be worlds apart. Gas-guzzling SUVs, for example, are far more ubiquitous than squirrels, on the suburban street where I live.
To end his National Geographic piece about the Chesapeake Bay, Horton quotes Fran Flanigan (who organized the first bay restoration summit, back in 1983): “Ultimately we’re confronted with a question of values, which no amount of money can fix.” How very true, indeed; and another very important point that cannot be emphasized enough.