kottke.org posts about Charles Feeney

Real life Brewster's MillionsAug 14 2012

In 1985's Brewster's Millions, Richard Pryor played a man who stood to inherit $300 million if he could spend $30 million in a month without telling anyone why. Great movie. They should remake it. It's not a perfect analogy, but billionaire Charles F. Feeney is trying to spend all of his money just the same. In 1982, he used $6 billion of his fortune to fund Atlantic Philanthropies. Feeney was able to run the foundation anonymously for 15 years by utilizing Bermuda's flexible disclosure laws. This also meant he wasn't able to deduct these donations from his taxes.

He's raised his profile lately with the hope of inspiring other rich people to spend their money the same way, and Warren Buffett refers to him as the "spiritual leader" of the effort to encourage billionaires to pledge half their fortune to philanthropy.

When the last of its money has been spent and it closes its doors sometime around 2020, Atlantic Philanthropies will be by far the largest such organization to have voluntarily shut itself down, according to Steven Lawrence, director of research for the Foundation Center. (The much bigger Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation plans to shut down 50 years after its founders die.)

By its end, Atlantic will have invested about $7.5 billion in direct medical care, immigration reform, education, criminal justice advocacy and peace-building initiatives. It was an invisible hand at the end of armed conflicts in South Africa and in Northern Ireland, providing funds to buttress constitutional politics over paramilitary action. It has supported marriage-equality campaigns, death penalty opponents and contributed $25 million to push health care reform.

More like this please. (via @randomantonym)

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