Bolder Giving - Give More, Risk more, Inspire more
Back to Story Library - Givers by Percentage Given - -
Abigail Disney Abigail Disney - at least 50%
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 - at least 50%
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 - at least 50%
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
Alison Goldberg Alison Goldberg - at least 50%
My father started a computer software company around the time I was born that grew for several years. The company was sold when I was in my early 20's, and I inherited money after that. During this time I was working on economic justice issues, and wanted to... More
Amoz Amoz - at least 50%
The best part about inheriting over $3 million dollars has been the chance to give most of that money to groups working for social change. I’ve been able to fund projects that have made a huge difference to Gay, Bi, Lesbian, and Queer youth, teachers,... More
Anne and Christopher Ellinger Anne and Christopher Ellinger - at least 50%
The half-million dollar inheritance we gave away in the mid 1980’s turned out to be a shockingly good investment: it has helped to unleash over $200 billion in charitable giving.  How’s that for leverage!  Of course it was more than... More
Ariel Thomas Nessel Ariel Thomas Nessel - at least 50%
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
Barbara Meyer Barbara Meyer - at least 50%
My wealth was serendipitous from the beginning. In 1912, my father began delivering packages at age 12 for a small start-up company that became the United Parcel Service.  He stayed with UPS most of his life, and when he died in 1964, left $250,000 to my... More
Barry Barry - at least 50%
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
Becky Liebman Becky Liebman - at least 50%
I was happily working as a reference librarian for many years when serious money came to me. This threw me for a loop. Suddenly I was faced with questions like, “What is real work?” and “Could I be more pro-active in the things I say I care... More
Betsy Betsy - at least 50%
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 Kaplan Bob Kaplan - at least 50%
In 1986 my mother passed and left me $350,000 [about $600,000 in today’s dollars]. For two years I gave small amounts away and used the income to support myself in work and projects I was drawn to. Then I had a crystal clear intuition that it was time... More
Boris Yakubchik Boris Yakubchik - at least 50%
Giving has become absurdly easy for me. I started giving when I was working part-time as a student: I’d give $30 any time I earned $300; then $50 when I’d earn $500. Now that I’m working full-time, every two weeks I glance at my paycheck... More
Brad Brad - at least 50%
I got started young in philanthropy and service. I was seven when I organized my first fundraiser, a lemonade stand with neighborhood kids. My parents, who required all of us children to contribute 10% of our allowances to charity, were very philanthropic. ... More
Brad Seligman Brad Seligman - at least 50%
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 - at least 50%
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 - at least 50%
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
Cathy Cathy - at least 50%
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
Charles Charles - at least 50%
I was 21 when I found out that I was inheriting far more money than I would ever need to live on. I was glad to have money to use for good ends. Yet I didn't want the money to define me or how others thought of me. I enjoyed and valued the work I was doing,... More
Charlie Rounds Charlie Rounds - at least 50%
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
Charly and Lisa Kleissner Charly and Lisa Kleissner - at least 50%
Charly:  My wedding ring and Lisa’s bracelet are engraved with our most important values:  “Integrity – Courage – Fun – Joy – Passion – Impact.” Lisa: These values guide our decision-making, whether... More
Chuck Collins Chuck Collins - at least 50%
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
Chuck Collins & Alison Goldberg Chuck Collins & Alison Goldberg - at least 50%
Chuck: My grandfather was the meat packer Oscar Mayer. In 1986, when I turned 25, I gave my entire inheritance to the Funding Exchange and other community funds working for social justice.   It was worth almost half a million dollars. (Had the funds... More
Connie Cagampang Heller Connie Cagampang Heller - at least 50%
Defining Racialization – Connie’s definition: Similar to marginalization, racialization is a process through which different racial groups are given or denied access to society’s concern and resources.  The mechanisms and... More
Craig Silverstein Craig Silverstein - at least 50%
The advice I got as I embarked on giving was: Focus on something you're passionate about. There are so many worthy causes, but none that jumped out at me; how could I choose? I was paralyzed by too many options. I knew that I had a chance to make a... More
David Akers David Akers - at least 50%
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 - at least 50%
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
David Ludlow David Ludlow - at least 50%
My late wife was a philanthropist and anti-racism activist. Her accidental death in 1996 propelled me into a shocking new identity as a person with wealth. To live a meaningful life as a person of wealth, I threw myself into a crash self-help program that... More
Doris Buffett Doris Buffett - at least 50%
I live to give. Since inheriting money from my mother in 1996, I have given away nearly $35 million. I’m 78 and I’m pedaling as fast as I can to give it all away before I die. I was lucky not to be raised in a wealthy family. I know what it... More
Douglas Tsoi Douglas Tsoi - at least 50%
I believe that a happy life is a purposeful and meaningful one, one filled with connection and service to others.  Ten years ago, after being laid-off as a technology lawyer in San Francisco, I wrote a mission for my life: to help people learn and become... More
Drake Zimmerman and Jan Elfine Drake Zimmerman and Jan Elfine - at least 50%
We live on 36 acres near Bloomington, Illinois. Having no kids, we have a full portfolio of causes, some local, some global, and write and teach widely. We support artists: underwriting shows and buying art. We co-founded Friends of Kickapoo Creek, a... More
Edorah Frazer Edorah Frazer - at least 50%
When my father died when I was 16, I was completely unprepared to inherit half a million dollars. I felt isolated and confused in contemplating my responsibility toward my wealth. But by the time I was given control of the principal at age 25, I felt much... More
Elizabeth Sheehan Elizabeth Sheehan - at least 50%
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
Frank and Ruth Butler Frank and Ruth Butler - at least 50%
Our giving is grounded in our Christian faith. We have been blessed to learn from wise people, starting with our parents, who know how to incorporate sound values into all money practices. Every budget is really a moral statement highlighting... More
Frank Rasmus Frank Rasmus - at least 50%
In my 45 years of working as an insurance claims examiner/supervisor, I never earned more than $45,000 a year. But I lived frugally, invested well, and built up a sizable retirement account. Since retiring a few years ago, I have gleefully discovered I can... More
George Pillsbury George Pillsbury - at least 50%
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 - at least 50%
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
Gigi Coyle Gigi Coyle - at least 50%
My giving has followed a heart path, not a master plan. I was stopped in my tracks by inheriting money in 1978. I felt immobilized, unable to continue my job in international development or the life I had known. I went to the desert to ask for guidance. My... More
Grace Ross Grace Ross - at least 50%
Growing up in a wealthy family in New York City, I was raised to believe that I would always be taken care of. As a Harvard student I got involved in social activism and was outraged to learn how many people never have that experience of safety. It didn't... More
Grigor McClelland Grigor McClelland - at least 50%
I am an only child, born in 1922. I attended a Quaker school, was a conscientious objector in WW2, and joined the Quakers in 1942, sharing Quaker concerns for social harmony and social justice. My father built up a successful grocery business from 1907, which... More
Harriet Dennison Harriet Dennison - at least 50%
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 and Carol Saal Harry and Carol Saal - at least 50%
The network technology company I founded went public in 1990. Previously, my wife Carol and I had not given much beyond $100 checks to direct mail appeals; now we could give in the thousands and tens of thousands. The breakthrough in our philanthropy in both... More
Harry R. Halloran Jr. Harry R. Halloran Jr. - at least 50%
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
James James - at least 50%
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 - at least 50%
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
Jennifer Easton Jennifer Easton - at least 50%
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
Jenny Ladd Jenny Ladd - at least 50%
What do a Standard Oil heiress (that’s me), a working-class Jewish woman, and a working-class Cuban-American man have in common? We all changed our lives through a cross-class dialogue group. Six of us met monthly for six years. We told each other... More
Jessie Spector Jessie Spector - at least 50%
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
Jill Warren Jill Warren - at least 50%
When Bob and I were married in 1993 and were combining our households, we were stunned by how much stuff we both owned. It seemed almost obscene to have so many things and it was shocking to consider the money spent on so many items that had been stored in... More
Jim Whitton Jim Whitton - at least 50%
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 - at least 50%
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
Joan Joan - at least 50%
My wise and beloved father once said to me, “Don’t ever invade the principal. Before you know it you could be reckless and lose everything!” I heard him, but long after he died I broke through that barrier and it scared the "h-" out of... More
John Mauriel John Mauriel - at least 50%
I recently retired. For the next few years I have a financial windfall coming in – from an arrangement that was set up decades ago, when a company on whose board I served let me defer compensation and put it into stock. My wife and I decided to give... More
John Powers John Powers - at least 50%
When I was quite young, my father found $100 by a roadside. He brought the money home. Over dinner he asked the family, “How should we give it away?” I’ve been tremendously fortunate to grow up with inherited wealth in a philanthropic... More
Johnny Lapham Johnny Lapham - at least 50%
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
Jonathan Frieman Jonathan Frieman - at least 50%
Because I have no children or family in need, I have more than enough to live on comfortably. That enables me to give away almost 2/3 of my income per year, which is about the salary of a VP at a large corporation. This is a wonderful privilege and I love... More
Joshua Mailman Joshua Mailman - at least 50%
All my adult life, I’ve woven together three passions – cutting edge philanthropy, socially responsible venture capital, and building networks to support innovation. I follow my instincts and move toward people and ideas that excite me, whether I... More
Julia Wise and Jeff Kaufman Julia Wise and Jeff Kaufman - at least 50%
To me the question isn't how much I should give away, but how much I should keep. I see my money as belonging to whoever needs it most: every dollar I spend is a dollar out of the hands of someone who needs it more than me. I’ve always felt that way. I... More
Karen Keating Ansara and Jim Ansara Karen Keating Ansara and Jim Ansara - at least 50%
My husband Jim and I adopted four children, three from impoverished parts of Latin America. So we live every day with the effect early poverty has on children: intellectually, socially, and emotionally. Desperate parents give up their children to people... More
Karen Pittelman Karen Pittelman - at least 50%
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 - at least 50%
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
Kevin and Hannah Salwen Kevin and Hannah Salwen - at least 50%
Our family is a fairly prototypical American foursome: my wife, Joan, and I live with our two teenagers in a nice house with two dogs. The kids play baseball and volleyball, we like to ride bikes and take family vacations. On the financial front, we have more... More
Kim Kim - at least 50%
My inherited wealth comes from a business that is still in the family. Whatever income I don't need I give back to the community. Currently that surplus is $500,000 a year and growing. For the past 25 years I have done my giving on my own. Now I'm working to... More
Laurie Emrich Laurie Emrich - at least 50%
In my twenties I inherited enough money to live without a paid job. I had grown up in Denver in a culturally Jewish family that emphasized Tikkun Olam, the value of healing the world through economic and social justice. I took these values to heart and... More
Laurie Loew Laurie Loew - at least 50%
Home.  I help people find them and let them go.  On paper, it’s a business transaction, but the journey literally hits home in a deeply personal way. My own childhood home was in Scottsdale, Arizona.  I was the 9th of 10 children, and... More
Leslie Brockelbank Leslie Brockelbank - at least 50%
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 - at least 50%
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
Lewis Cullman Lewis Cullman - at least 50%
In 1999, I sold my company, At-A-Glance, to Mead Paper Co. for $550 million. Shortly thereafter, my wife Dorothy and I decided to pledge or give a majority of it away since most of our needs were taken care of. My first advice about philanthropy came from... More
Lili Stiefel Lili Stiefel - at least 50%
Lili Stiefel has a big dream – to help our oil-based economy shift to renewable energy. In 2007, she and her mother committed $1 million for grantmaking to projects that are creating non-oil jobs in the Middle East. Another $1 million they are... More
Linus Roache Linus Roache - at least 50%
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
Marilyn Marilyn - at least 50%
Fifty years ago when the family stock was sold and we were about to get $2 million [over $8 million in today’s dollars] my husband and I looked at each other, “We don’t want to be that rich.” So we gave away half, finding a foundation... More
Marji Greenhut Marji Greenhut - at least 50%
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
Mike Hannigan Mike Hannigan - at least 50%
Every year our Bay Area office supplies company, Give Something Back, allocates money for our customers to donate, for our employees to donate, and for my co-founder Sean Marx and myself to donate. We don't give a fixed percentage of the profits. We make a... More
Mike Lapham Mike Lapham - at least 50%
As a fifth-generation family owner of a small paper mill in Upstate New York, I began receiving four large checks a year in my late twenties – each one larger than the yearly earnings of a minimum wage worker. At the time, I worked in the low-income... More
Mike Schaefer and Ric Weiland Mike Schaefer and Ric Weiland - at least 50%
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
Molly Stranahan Molly Stranahan - at least 50%
I’ve never thought of myself as a bold giver, although generosity has been one of my core values and is a legacy from my wealthy family.  My great-grandfather and his brother founded Champion Spark Plug Company over 100 years ago. As a teenager, I... More
Nick Beckstead and Mark Lee Nick Beckstead and Mark Lee - at least 50%
We are deeply committed to giving significantly, and to helping others experience the joy and power of effective giving. Currently, we’re getting our PhD’s in philosophy at Rutgers University. Graduate students aren’t exactly rolling in... More
Parmeet Shah Parmeet Shah - at least 50%
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
Phil Villers Phil Villers - at least 50%
I came to the U.S. when I was five, fleeing France with my family two hours ahead of the German army. This experience may have helped to shape my social conscience. As a young man, my father pushed me toward sciences and engineering, so I became a mechanical... More
Pilar Gonzales Pilar Gonzales - at least 50%
During the years I earned as much as $50,000-$100,000 a year, I gave 25-50% of my annual income. One year I earned a modest $16,000, a drop due to health issues – yet I still gave the same percentage of my income. My giving has now settled at 10-25%... More
Ralph Alpert Ralph Alpert - at least 50%
My parents didn't have a lot of money for much of their lives, but were generous nonetheless. My father's business became successful, and when I sold my share in 1984 I had considerable wealth. I had been working as a lawyer and investing my earnings, so I... More
Randolf Randolf - at least 50%
I’m 77 now, and have been giving substantially from my inheritances since I was 32. Since 1997, I’ve been giving $200,000+/year, 50% of my adjusted gross income. I’ve been inspired to be a giver, first, by my Christian faith: I was a... More
Richard Semmler Richard Semmler - at least 50%
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
Rick Zemlin Rick Zemlin - at least 50%
In 1981 I joined the Peace Corps and went to live in the Third World for three years. There I saw and was horrified by abject poverty everywhere. I learned it came from the unfair international economic system – a system from which I and others in the... More
Robert Graham Robert Graham - at least 50%
I am a retired businessman who has spent most of my last 20 years as a social entrepreneur in building nonprofits, personal service, and philanthropy. In the early 1980s I got the idea that I would devote half my time and resources to helping other people,... More
Ruth Ann Harnisch Ruth Ann Harnisch - at least 50%
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 - at least 50%
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 - at least 50%
  “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 - at least 50%
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
Tammy Tammy - at least 50%
My investment income is close to $90,000 annually. I give between 50% and 100% of it away. It means I’m spending down my capital to cover my living expenses, but I’ve got a financial plan & I’m certainly not going to want for anything in... More
Timothy B. Timothy B. - at least 50%
After college I volunteered and lived in a Catholic Worker community. Dorothy Day started the Catholic Worker in the 1930's, as a radical way to follow Jesus' teachings and to work for social justice. In our local Catholic Worker community we lived simply on... More
Tom Hsieh Tom Hsieh - at least 50%
Tom Hsieh is a happy man – and he busts all myths about the American Dream. Guided by faith, he gives more than half his lucrative salary every year to address poverty in Los Angeles, while he and his wife and child stay committed to keep their personal... More
Tom White Tom White - at least 50%
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
Tyrone Boucher Tyrone Boucher - at least 50%
My dad set up a trust fund for me when I was young, with stock from a software company he started. The company ended up making lots of money, and my trust fund grew to about $400,000. By the time I turned 25 and began to receive some money from the trust, I... More
Vanessa Vanessa - at least 50%
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
Zell Kravinsky Zell Kravinsky - at least 50%
I always wanted to to be a philanthropist and to give part of my body away to help others. Now at age 54, I am pleased to say I have done both. I have had a successful real estate business. In 2003, I reached a point when I had provided for my kids and had... More
 
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