Saturday, February 22, 2014

Give It Away Now

I have been very interested in the concept of philanthropy as it applies to "new" money.  Today's new money call it "venture" capitalism but it is not just advocated by the young, many of the greatest generation, aka their Grandparents (where do you think they learned it?) are the biggest advocate of this idea of measuring the affect and understanding the bottom line when it comes to redistributing their wealth.

The young call it "measuring metrics" and the old call it "strings attached."  They are basically the same idea. You want my redistribution of wealth? Well you need to prove to me why you need and it what you are going to do with it and then I may give it to you or not.  But if you do it as I want you to then okay.   That latter one is often the most interesting one as that is foundation of the PAC s and other fake charities that donate to political campaigns.  Buying a Legislator today ain't what it used to be.

So the New York Times found the real deal, the old school Philanthropist.  Loved his story because so much there is about saving American landmarks and valuing the community in which he lives, the American community. 

And then I looked for more articles about similar Philanthropists and found this story.  He is no member of the Giving Pledge where the rich plan on giving their wealth away after they are dead.. no this man is very much alive and wants the last check he writes to bounce! Hope it is too the funeral directors! PSYCH!

And I loved this late Philanthropist who made me appreciate their ads just a little more.  Looking at his gifts they were diverse as his clients.  But he did make demands although I am not sure they are anywhere near the level of a say a Gates Foundation gift.  And it looks like while he joined the Giving Pledge he gave most of it away before he died.    Maybe I just like him for bragging about terminating  Harvard Business school grads.  I think he sounded like a cool guy who knew what and who he liked.  I would have bitched too about cost overruns on a Gehry build.  Shame we never met.

So when you read about the web of Philanthropy tied to Comcast you think new school.  As we are on the verge of one of the most disturbing mergers of late, Comcast and Time Warner.  So, it was not shocking (did I say shocking? DRINK!) to read about their role in "quote/unquote"  philanthropic pursuits.    Again, influence can be bought but it doesn't mean you have to follow traditional routes.

Buying your consumer groups might be the next plan Zuckerberg looks into as he continues to explore other fraudulent ways to "lean in" and I think this sums up his philosophy about charity. But I do want those to remember Bill Gates once said similar thoughts.  Then he figured out the new way to do it.

Looks like Mark learned the idea from the master. The Tech Sector is saving the world, lather, rinse and repeating every idea that came before.   The below came from an interview with the Chronicle of Philanthropy:

Zuckerberg believes companies like Facebook are better equipped to tackle society’s problems than nonprofit groups.
“I think building a company is the best way to change the world, because it’s the best way to align the interests of a lot of smart people and a lot of partners to build something that’s great and that serves people,”
 “You can’t do that if you’re an individual because it’s just you and there’s no one to align, and you can’t do it if you’re a nonprofit because you have no resources and you’re constantly out trying to raise money instead of generating it and being self-sufficient.”
I think the article below is well worth  about this amazing man who is the personification of the up by the bootstraps archetype who gives "patriotically" and not in the way we have come to know or expect from those of his generation (as in the Warren Buffett dead one).

A Billionaire Philanthropist in Washington Who’s Big on ‘Patriotic Giving’

FEB. 20, 2014

WASHINGTON — The expansive reach of David M. Rubenstein into the public life of the nation’s capital can be seen during a brief excursion from his downtown office at the Carlyle Group, the private equity firm that he co-founded and that made him a billionaire.

Begin across the street at the National Archives, the site of the new gallery, named after him, where Magna Carta, which he bought in 2007 for $23 million, is on permanent loan. Then head to the Library of Congress, and see the first map of the United States, also his, in the Great Hall.

Make your way to the earthquake-damaged Washington Monument, which will reopen this spring after a $15 million repair, half paid for by Mr. Rubenstein, then zip to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where his $75 million has bought, among other things, a new pipe organ. End up at the National Zoo, where baby Bao Bao frolics in the panda habitat Mr. Rubenstein endowed, part of a $7 million Smithsonian gift.

Over the years, Mr. Rubenstein, who has a fortune estimated at $3 billion, has made gifts to the usual array of universities, hospitals and cultural organizations beloved by wealthy donors. But he stands nearly alone in shoring up institutions generally under the purview of the federal government. About $200 million of the $300 million he has given away has been what he calls “patriotic giving.”

“The United States cannot afford to do the things it used to do,” Mr. Rubenstein said, “and I think it would be a good thing if more people would say: ‘My national zoo needs money, the archives need money. I think we’re going to have to do more for them.’

And there is plenty more to do in a city that has not only suffered from cutbacks in federal spending but which historically has lacked both the wealth and the philanthropic traditions of places like New York.

While there were wealthy and civic-minded men like Duncan Phillips and Eugene Meyer who left their mark on Washington in the last century, it was the federal government that built and maintained the parks and museums that in other cities donors endowed, according to Steven Pearlstein, a professor of public and international affairs at George Mason University and a columnist for The Washington Post. “The federal government was the sugar daddy,” he said.

For the most part, according to Mr. Pearlstein, Washington has been a place where the currency has been power more than money. In the past two decades, that has begun to change as government contracting, banking and the law have created a new wealthy class in the city and its suburbs, but no one has given his money away quite like Mr. Rubenstein.

“This kind of giving is starting to happen more often because governments are really suffering,” said Stacy Palmer, the editor of The Chronicle of Philanthropy. “But the extent of Rubenstein’s giving sets him apart.” Such giving, she said, is a subject of feverish debate in the philanthropy world, where many believe that private money should not permit government to abdicate responsibilities and in turn drain cash from food banks, hospitals and other services in need. There are “concerns about whether it is a good idea for philanthropy to step in for government,” Ms. Palmer said.

Mr. Rubenstein, 64, who first came to Washington to work in government, offers a simple explanation for what he has done: “I felt I owed my country a lot. I also felt I owed the city a lot. I built my company here; I met my wife here.”

He grew up in modest means in Baltimore; his father sorted mail for the Postal Service and his mother was a homemaker. After college and law school, he worked in a New York law firm before getting a job on Capitol Hill for the Senate Judiciary Committee. In 1977, he joined the Carter administration, where he spent his days toiling over domestic policy as a White House aide, and met his wife, Alice Rogoff, who worked at the Office of Management and Budget. Newsweek once called him “the White House workaholic.”

After his stint ended, Mr. Rubenstein took another corporate law job but reassessed and concluded that he was “a mediocre lawyer.” With some partners, he set out to found Carlyle, named after the hotel in New York City, quickly accruing a fortune in the world of leveraged buyouts.

Ten years ago, Mr. Rubenstein said, he began to consider his legacy, and after learning from some actuarial tables that white Jewish males were likely to live to 81, decided to start plowing a lot of his money — and his time — into philanthropic causes. “There are other wonderful donors in Washington,” said Michael M. Kaiser, president of the Kennedy Center, “but it’s the range of his giving and his collection of interests that is staggering.”

In choosing his beneficiaries, Mr. Rubenstein relies on his interests and his gut. He has a passion for American history and can lecture extemporaneously and at length about presidents, historic documents, the civil rights movement and beyond — and has no staff or foundation to vet requests. He spends little time agonizing over a donation. “To some extent when you’ve made the money, you feel you can give it away more rapidly,” he said.

In January 2013, Curt Viebranz, the president of George Washington’s Mount Vernon, took Mr. Rubenstein around the museum to show him how it had displayed some of his documents. Over lunch, Mr. Viebranz recalled: “I felt emboldened to ask him for a large gift, and much to my surprise and happiness, he made that $10 million gift in February. It was a remarkably efficient process.” He added, “It can take years of cultivating a donor to get a gift of that size.”

If you don’t call Mr. Rubenstein, he might call you. If you do “make the ask,” expect to get an answer in weeks. While Mr. Rubenstein likes to see results — and despite his unassuming manner, is not averse to seeing his name on the doors of his beneficiaries — he does not use the complex success metrics of philanthropists like Eli Broad in Los Angeles. He tends not to check in, but if beneficiaries send an update, they hear back from him, no matter his time zone (he travels roughly 250 days a year).

The donations can be transformative. Mr. Rubenstein will endow the expansion of the Kennedy Center, which otherwise would have had to go to Congress for an appropriation. At Monticello, his $10 million gift allowed Leslie Greene Bowman, president of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, as she puts it, “to return the mountaintop of Monticello to something Jefferson would have recognized in just a few years what I would venture to say would have taken at least a decade to accomplish.”

Mr. Rubenstein says he likes to apply the “mother standard” to giving. “When I built Carlyle, my mother didn’t call to say, ‘I’m so proud,’ ” he said. “When I give a gift to some place of importance, she calls and says, ‘I’m proud.’ ”

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