Billionaire Gives Away $8 Billion Fortune To Charity Before He Dies
When billionaires make the news these days, it’s usually because they’ve become even richer.
Take Mark Zuckerberg, for example, who recently secured his place in the centibillionaire club alongside Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates, or Elon Musk, who joined him less than a month later after shares in Tesla soared.
Charles ‘Chuck’ Feeney breaks the mould though, because this billionaire decided a long time ago that he was going to die without a penny to his name. Now, he’s finally achieved his goal after giving his $8 billion fortune away to charity.
Feeney, who amassed billions after co-founding airport retailer Duty Free Shoppers with Robert Miller in 1960, became famous for his promise to give all of his money away to charitable causes.
A philanthropist for most of his life, the 89-year-old pioneered Giving While Living — the idea of spending your fortune by giving charitable donations throughout your lifetime instead of funding a foundation upon death.
‘We learned a lot,’ Feeney told Forbes. ‘We would do some things differently, but I am very satisfied. I feel very good about completing this on my watch.’
I see little reason to delay giving when so much good can be achieved through supporting worthwhile causes. Besides, it’s a lot more fun to give while you live than give while you’re dead.
So, just where did his $8 billion fortune go? Well, he gave $3.7 billion to education, with one of his final gifts being a $350 million donation to Cornell University to build a technology campus on New York City’s Roosevelt Island. In total, he gave almost $1 billion to Cornell, which he attended.
More than $870 million was donated to human rights and social change causes, of which $62 million was given in grants to abolish the death penalty in the US. He also donated $76 million to grassroots campaigns supporting the passage of Obamacare.
Not only that, but Feeney gave more than $700 million in gifts to various health causes around the world – ranging from a $176 million gift to the Global Brain Health Institute at the University of California, San Francisco, to a $270 million grant to improve public healthcare in Vietnam.
Feeney finally completed his four-decade mission on September 14, signing the documents to dissolve Atlantic Philanthropies – the foundation he set up in 1984 – alongside his wife, Helga.
The couple celebrated the achievement in a ceremony over Zoom with the foundation’s board, which included video messages from Bill Gates and former California Governor Jerry Brown. Nancy Pelosi also sent an official letter from the US Congress thanking Feeney for his work.
Feeney thanked everyone ‘who joined us on this journey’, adding: ‘To those wondering about Giving While Living: Try it, you’ll like it.’
What a selfless man.
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