Bolder Giving - Give More, Risk more, Inspire more
Back to Story Library - Givers by Motivation - -
Abigail Disney Abigail Disney
I was afraid to be bold in my 20s. The first leap I took was moving from LA to NYC – far from my family of origin, to have the space to become myself. My husband and I started a family foundation in 1991 because it seemed like a good thing to do. The... More
Alan Slifka Alan Slifka
For 20 years I have given over $1 million a year to the Abraham Fund Initiatives, which I founded to support co-existence in Israel among Jews and Arabs. Of my annual giving of $4-5 million, I give 2/3 to co-existence projects and 1/3 to Jewish projects. ... More
Alexander Gaguine Alexander Gaguine
When I was 44, I could have received a substantial inheritance.  Instead, I persuaded my dad to change his estate plans so nearly all the money went directly into a charitable foundation.  In the years before and after my father’s death... More
Anjhula Mya Bais Anjhula Mya Bais
By nature of what I do as a fashion model, as an ex MTV VJ (video jockey), and celebrity often in the spotlight, I feel the need to be a vocal role model.  I need to let it be known that I am a bold giver so that I can encourage and inspire others to do... More
Ari Weisbard & Rebecca Ennen Ari Weisbard & Rebecca Ennen
Rebecca: My earliest memories of giving were participating in the Walk for Hunger and the AIDS Walk in Boston with my mother. The fundraising goals that we set each year felt tangible and real. I’d imagine hungry kids eating meals that I... More
Ariel Thomas Nessel Ariel Thomas Nessel
I pledge to give at least $1,000 a day away, every day, for the rest of my life.I've had the blessing of earning significant amounts of money in my career as a real estate re-developer, sustainably renovating tired and dilapidated apartment buildings into... More
Barry Barry
I inherited a half million from my parents in my early twenties, and then another $2 million from other relatives. I later received $7 million in settlements arising from my family’s losses as Jews in Nazi Germany. From an early age I was troubled... More
Betsy Betsy
I was in my mid-20’s (20 years ago) when I inherited $300,000 (about $500,000 in today's dollars). Working full-time in the anti-nuclear movement, I lived simply and had no dependents, so it seemed logical to give the money away, mostly to groups doing... More
Bob Hadley Bob Hadley
My wife Judy and I don’t aim to give a specific percentage of our income--we simply give each year as we feel led. Only when I prepare our tax return do we see what the total represents. I firmly believe that proportionate giving is what we are supposed... More
Brad Seligman Brad Seligman
Fourteen years ago, when I used my money and legal expertise to start The Impact Fund, I never dreamed we’d be leading the largest class action suit in history. I was brought up in a Jewish middle class family, where we sat around the table and talked... More
Brendan Martin Brendan Martin
There was nothing about my childhood to suggest I would become a radical economist and entrepreneur, giving away most of my money to finance worker cooperatives in Argentina, Nicaragua and the U.S. As a kid growing up in generic suburbs of Rochester, NY, I... More
Carol Newell Carol Newell
I grew up in Ogdensburg New York, in a business-oriented family, where our business was one of the main employers in the small town.   My father was an executive at the Newell Company and my mother a home maker. After my father died at 48, my mother... More
Cathie Hartnett Cathie Hartnett
When I was twenty-five, I inherited a lot of money.  I’m not sure exactly how much, but I know it would be worth millions today.  I wasn’t given any direction in how to use it.  I was literally handed an envelope filled with stock... More
Cathy Cathy
Growing up in Asia, I was moved by the plight of suffering animals - a frequent sight. But I didn't know how to help them. Nobody around me cared about animals. After college in the UK, I joined animal, environmental, and human rights groups, but my... More
Cathy Raphael Cathy Raphael
The world is out of balance.  We need to support the divine feminine parts of life that are much more loving and peaceful.  When it comes to giving, that means breaking through the isolation and barriers that often exist between and among donors and... More
Charlie Rounds Charlie Rounds
Deciding to give it all was easy.   I was an early partner in RSVP, the first tour company to give gay and lesbian people a spectacular and harassment-free vacation. After 16 years in the business I sold my share to one of the partners.  The... More
Chimu Chimu
I discovered my life’s special purpose by stumbling upon it.  This journey led me to open my heart and wallet to help those less fortunate by founding the Inti Raymi Fund and Adrenaline Philanthropy. In 1992, you would have found me in a suit and... More
Chuck Collins Chuck Collins
My grandfather was the meat packer Oscar Mayer. In 1986, when I turned 25, I gave away an inheritance worth almost half a million dollars. Had the funds remained invested in a modest growth fund, they would be worth $4 to 6 million today. I made this... More
Daniel Susott Daniel Susott
When I was a little boy, I prayed every night, "Please help all the poor people in the world to be rich!" By this, I meant, for all people to be safe and to have their bellies full as mine. My heroes were Tom Dooley and Albert Schweitzer, both "jungle... More
David Akers David Akers
I grew up in a family that passed on values and faith, and my adult life has been guided by those roots. Early on we learned that a part of our allowance was to go into the church offering basket each Sunday. My mother taught me that life isn’t fair-... More
David Becker David Becker
My philanthropic journey began in 1968, when as a college junior I inherited a couple million dollars from my mother. After hesitant efforts to give some of it away, I was transformed by encounters in the 1970s with Haymarket People’s Fund and Gay... More
Elizabeth Sheehan Elizabeth Sheehan
Over the past three years, I’ve completely transformed myself as a giver.  Previously, I was the uninspired yet loyal trustee of our family foundation.  Although our grant-making was generous and thoughtful, the process seemed perfunctory,... More
Eugene Eugene "Rod" Roddenberry
Roddenberry.  It’s a name synonymous with futuristic worlds, but for me it has become a portal to the future of our own world. My dad was Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek. Growing up, I only knew him as my dad, the guy who checked to see... More
Farhad Ebrahimi Farhad Ebrahimi
As a teenager, I was gifted a significant amount of money. This gift came from my father, who was and is a very successful high-tech entrepreneur. Even as I write this, he's probably out there making more money, and all of it will be set aside for family.... More
Genevieve Vaughan Genevieve Vaughan
In 1979, my father told me had inherited many millions. I decided to give it to social change projects. Here’s why: I had a vision of a gift economy (gift-economy.com) based on women’s values. I felt so strongly about this vision that I wanted to... More
George Pillsbury George Pillsbury
My family’s wealth came from grain mills my great-grandfather started along the Mississippi in the 1850s. My great grandfather before that and his sons fought at Lexington Green and relatives were involved in abolition, women’s suffrage, and an... More
George Salzman George Salzman
I was once a theoretical physicist. Now I'm an anarchist and opposed to the growing division of rich and poor. I'm 82 years old. A few years ago I left my old life behind, put my house in a trust to benefit the community, and moved to Oaxaca, Mexico, where... More
Gerard Senehi Gerard Senehi
My life, philanthropy, work as an entertainer, and non-profit pursuit have been guided by the belief that the future is in our hands and thus open to our influence, that we have the power to impact culture with important implications for ourselves, our... More
Harriet Dennison Harriet Dennison
I recently passed all the assets of the Oregon portion of our family foundation to two community organizations, freeing myself from my job of philanthropist. For over two decades, philanthropy had been my deeply satisfying work ... but then it became time... More
Harry R. Halloran Jr. Harry R. Halloran Jr.
As I was completing my degree in Civil Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, I realized that I wanted to do something for mankind instead of working for the family business which was involved in the heavy construction industry. After completing my... More
Helen LaKelly Hunt Helen LaKelly Hunt
It is a powerful thing, watching people come together to move the needle toward greater justice; even more so to participate. When I have done so, faith has always played a part. I call myself a follower of Jesus Christ. No one cared more... More
James James
I inherited over half a million dollars in my early twenties, and donated 2/3rds of this to nuclear freeze and peace campaigns. At the age of fifty, I received a trust distribution and made my largest single gift of $105,000 to the Peace Development Fund. My... More
Jamie Schwesnedl Jamie Schwesnedl
I grew up in the punk rock scene. Our slogan was D.I.Y. – Do It Yourself. Since I was 16, I’ve known that if we want the world to be a fairer place with justice for everybody, we have to do it ourselves. When I lived in New Orleans, I tutored... More
Jason Franklin Jason Franklin
I was just 14 years old when I had my first success as a community organizer.  Angry about major proposed cuts to public education in state, I co-founded a student organizing effort to “save the Oregon school system.”  I was thrilled as... More
Jennifer Easton Jennifer Easton
Before my mom died in 1991, she changed her will so that my sister and I could choose, if we wished, to give our inheritances charitably instead of taking them personally. Which we both did. Since then, I’ve given over 50% of my net worth, mostly to... More
Jessie Spector Jessie Spector
I learned the values of humble generosity and living in moderation early on from my family. My parents were wonderfully philanthropic in untraditional ways (and traditional ones too).  My father is a terrific organizer; our house was always filled with... More
Jim Whitton Jim Whitton
In 1982, I was 25 years old, living in NYC, doing international banking in the Asia Pacific region for Chase Manhattan.  I didn’t love banking – nor was I particularly good at it.  One day a friend invited me to something called... More
Jin Zidell Jin Zidell
My goal is to bring safe drinking water to 200 million people by the year 2022.  So far I’ve volunteered ten years of my full-time energy and given $7 million (half my wealth) towards that goal- -and at age 73, I’m having the most... More
John Hunting John Hunting
As a passionate environmentalist, John Hunting believes the time to give is now. When he inherited $130M from the office furniture company his father started, he committed nearly all of it to the Beldon Fund for environmental grantmaking. Instead of paying... More
Johnny Lapham Johnny Lapham
Having benefited from inheritance provided by my grandparents as well as dividends and stocks from my family's paper company, I was moved to do something extraordinary for others. Since so much of my wealth is not earned, I have tried to see it as a... More
Karen Pittelman Karen Pittelman
The first question people usually ask when they find out I gave away a three million dollar trust fund at the age of 25 is: do you regret it? Since this was one of the most joyous decisions of my life—I’ve never felt any regret—it’s an... More
Kathy LeMay Kathy LeMay
When I was growing up, I thought only millionaires could be philanthropists. I came from a working-class family, so I thought I could never be a philanthropist. Still, I wanted to solve social injustices so I became an activist, first as a student in my small... More
Kristin Hull Kristin Hull
For 25 years, when people ask me what I do, I have always answered, “I am an educator.”  Lately, I have started to introduce myself as an entrepreneur. I realize that I have a lifetime of experience with start- ups. Both of my parents are... More
Leslie Brockelbank Leslie Brockelbank
My husband and I were activists working with many groups, for peace and justice. We contributed money to these groups but mostly we ‘sat on’ our money. We kept waiting for the issue, or the opportunity significant enough to give half of our... More
Levani Lipton Levani Lipton
Meeting the people you help is a transformative experience. My mother and I journeyed to Malawi to visit a community-based organization in the countryside town of M’chenga. Leaving the capital of Lilongwe, we traveled along dusty roads and arrived at a... More
Linus Roache Linus Roache
I have always felt very blessed to be in my profession. As an actor I have explored a craft that I love, traveled the world, and sometimes earn large amounts of money that has given me a lot of freedom. Currently, I play ADA Michael Cutter on NBC’s Law... More
Margaret Lloyd Margaret Lloyd
To my amazement, I’m now 88 years old; I don’t know how I got here. So many elderly people sit around having their cocktails and going to Florida, not really being alive. I want to continue to count for something no matter that I do feel my... More
Marji Greenhut Marji Greenhut
Growing up, I was taught to give Tzedakah, which means giving for justice (not charity). My family always had a little blue box for the United Jewish Appeal on the table. So when I inherited millions in 1995, I knew right away I would give most of it away,... More
Mark Reed Mark Reed
“Are you kiddin me? You haven’t been to jail and none of your family’s on crack?”  Damien, a mouthy, bright fourteen year old wanted to know who I was, where I came from, and why I was there. It was tougher to prove myself to... More
Mary Nemetz Mary Nemetz
It all started with an “aha” moment. I remember it as if it was yesterday, I was volunteering at a homeless shelter when a man came up to me and said: “Thank you so very much for being here…for helping me!” His thanks gave me a... More
Mike Schaefer and Ric Weiland Mike Schaefer and Ric Weiland
Mike Schaefer, the surviving partner of an early Microsoft pioneer, has distributed more than $180 million – nearly 100% of their assets – to 20 charitable organizations since his partner’s death in 2006. Mike's story offers profound... More
Millard Fuller Millard Fuller
Following in my dad’s footsteps, I started a business that made me a millionaire by age 29. I was ruthless at making money and proud to be able to buy anything imaginable. I didn’t realize the downside, until my wife and kids left me for taking... More
Nancy Thurston Nancy Thurston
Paradox runs through the middle of my life, especially as I work with wealth. My roots lie deep in West Texas natural gas fields, yet I am committed to sustainable, resources. I was born with white skin and worked for fifteen years as a physical therapist but... More
Nyla Rodgers Nyla Rodgers
I am an action person.  Lots of people are upset about the state of the world but don’t do anything about it.  My mother and I were never like that; we are doers. My mother spent her life giving to others, a virtue she passed on to ... More
Parmeet Shah Parmeet Shah
I grew up in what we call a joint family, in Mumbai, India. There were ten of us sharing the house: my parents, brother, grandparents, my uncle and his family. That connectedness is what I missed most when I moved to the West at age 18 to attend Yale... More
Paula and Barry Litt Paula and Barry Litt
Political activism for social justice has always been an important part of our life. We both became radicals while we were still in high school in the 1960’s and were deeply involved in the civil rights and anti-war movements. After we married, we... More
Philippe Cousteau Philippe Cousteau
People assume that fame and fortune came easily to me because my grandfather was Jacques Cousteau, but nothing could be further from the truth. My father died before I was born and my sister and I inherited very little except our mother’s indomitable... More
Richard Semmler Richard Semmler
I'm not wealthy. I make my living as a mathematics professor at Northern Virginia Community College, plus two other part-time jobs, one as an editor and the other as a janitor. I earn in total a little over $100,000 per year. For the past ten years... More
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Chris Bartle Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Chris Bartle
Bobby: How did we decide to start a company that gives 100% of its profits selling water in order to protect public waterways? My lifelong love of nature and animals grew into a concern for the environment. In 1984 I started working to protect the Hudson... More
Rose Feerick Rose Feerick
God has a wonderful sense of humor! For much of my adult life I have been engaging with money as a spiritual practice, trying to live simply and working for social justice. Recently, my teenage sons and I needed to relocate to one of the most affluent... More
Roxanne Meshar Roxanne Meshar
Out of the blue a friend said to me, “Roxanne, why have you never thought of studying theology?” Neither she nor I had any idea what possessed her to say that, but it was it was like getting hit over the head with a 2x4. I immediately knew this... More
Ruth Ann Harnisch Ruth Ann Harnisch
Money issues are different in what my friend Steven calls “the third quarter.” He figures we play to live to 100, and since we’re over 50, we’re in (we hope) the third quarter. Of course, the game can end anytime due to force majeure,... More
Sam Sam
I was twenty years old when I received my first inheritance of $10,000 from my grandmother. I’ve never felt so wealthy, before or since. It only took me six months to blow it all on well-meaning but ultimately foolish investments and unpaid loans. By... More
Sasha Rabsey Sasha Rabsey
  “Mom, I want to do community service in Africa this summer and I really want you to come with me.” My daughter had been doing community service in San Francisco for years and was ready to take her passion to a global level and she wanted... More
Sheri Cohen Sheri Cohen
I grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba in a Jewish Family. My father and his five brothers grew up working class. They established SAAN stores/Gendis and were successful financially. My life however, was complicated. I grew up as a survivor of violence, abuse and... More
Tom & Sonya Campion Tom & Sonya Campion
Tom:   I’ve been in retail for decades and started our company Zumiez in 1978.   We sell fun-- surf, skate, snowboarding and action sports to teenagers, ages 12-18--you know, a group that typically has problems with authority. ... More
Tom White Tom White
I met Paul Farmer in 1983. Project Bread asked if I’d build an oven in Haiti, which saved women from walking 20 miles for bread. When I went to see the oven in Cange I met Paul. He was 23; I was 63. Our meeting was cooked up in heaven. Paul was still... More
Vanessa Vanessa
My father's life resembled a Horatio Alger story....from rags to riches. He was a modest farm boy who put himself through college during the depression. Through perseverance and hard work, he managed to amass a billion dollar fortune in his lifetime. ... More
Wendy Chang Wendy Chang
Justice is realized through moments in time – something you must see or experience to understand. There are two defining moments in my life that have shaped my view of social justice. When I was just about 5 years old, my family emigrated from... More
 
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