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 housing field and was well aware how difficult it was for many people to make ends meet. Inspired by my brother John and a few others, and spurred by the 1986 tax law changes (in a way that I no longer remember), I began writing 4- and 5-figure checks to my favorite foundations and non-profits. Before long, I was giving away 60-70% of my annual income each year, which was about 100% of the dividends from the paper mill. In all, I have given away over $500,000 (although “half a million” somehow sounds sexier, doesn’t it?).
These days, the mill is rarely sending checks, and I’m married and planning for children, their college, our retirement, etc., so I’m clearly in the “Former 50% Club,” but still happy I gave away what I did. And I wonder what my partner and I would do if the checks started coming in again like they used to!
| Northeast | 40 to 59 Years Old | $1-$10M | at least 50% | Inheritance |
| Donor Education | Social Justice | Fairness | Simplicity |