Bolder Giving - Give More, Risk more, Inspire more
Back to Story Library - Givers by Source - -
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
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
Alison Goldberg Alison Goldberg
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
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
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
Anne and Christopher Ellinger Anne and Christopher Ellinger
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
Barbara Meyer Barbara Meyer
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
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
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
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
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
Brad Brad
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
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
Charles Charles
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
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
Connie Cagampang Heller Connie Cagampang Heller
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
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 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
Diane Feeney Diane Feeney
“How do I do the most good with my philanthropic dollars?” This challenging question has guided my development as a bold giver for the past two decades. I was 21 when my parents created a family foundation so their five children could learn about... More
Doris Buffett Doris Buffett
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
Edorah Frazer Edorah Frazer
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
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
Elspeth Gilmore Elspeth Gilmore
At age 33, I’m at last coming into my own about my wealth.  I’ve made mistakes.  I’ve learned a lot.  I’m finally clear that, for me, using my resources to make change is about collective action. I grew up wealthy in... 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
Gigi Coyle Gigi Coyle
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
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
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
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
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
Ian Fuller Ian Fuller
I never used the word philanthropy, but I grew up with its finest traditions disguised in plain sight as Black culture. My grandfather was the abstract impressionist painter Norman Lewis, and his legacy to our family has many complexities, shaping my... 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
Jeff Zinsmeyer Jeff Zinsmeyer
A funny thing happened on the way to creating a foundation.  While working at the Center for Community Change, my good lawyer friend Tom Asher called.  He was completing IRS paperwork to setup my new foundation, but we had no name.  To complete... 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
Jenny Ladd Jenny Ladd
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
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
Joan Joan
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
Joel Solomon Joel Solomon
I grew up in a liberal Jewish household in Chattanooga, Tennessee. My father, also Joel Solomon, was a pioneer and social innovator in his time. As a Jewish man dealing with the prejudices of the South in the fifties and sixties, the local business world... 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
John Powers John Powers
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
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
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
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
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
Kim Kim
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
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
Laurie Emrich Laurie Emrich
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
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
Lili Stiefel Lili Stiefel
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
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
Marnie Thompson Marnie Thompson
Well before my father died I came to the conclusion that if he willed me an inheritance, I would give it back — not to his estate, but rather to the wider world from which it had come. Though I believe my dad was a very good, very smart man, I did not... More
Mike Lapham Mike Lapham
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
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
Ralph Alpert Ralph Alpert
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
Ram Dass Ram Dass
In the 1970s I was in India studying with my guru, Maharaji. One day he called me in and said, "Your father has a lot of money. . . . You are not to accept an inheritance." I was startled by his mandate, but it felt right to me. I hadn't been aware that I... More
Randolf Randolf
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
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
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
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
Tammy Tammy
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.
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
Tracy Gary Tracy Gary
I’m an evangelist for inspired philanthropy: inspired living and inspired giving! Over the past 30 years, I have spent an average of 200 days a year on the road – giving keynotes and workshops at donor conferences, meeting with wealthy families,... 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
 
http://www.boldergiving.org/stories.php