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Most Generous Person in History Gave $8 Billion to Charity


He is referred to as the “James Bond of Philanthropy” because, like a secret agent, he is deadly serious about giving!  He is arguably the most generous person in the history of the country. Although his giving is vast, what is remarkable is that he gave away everything he had, in the most impactful ways possible, without recognition, in fact, doing so in secret. His name is Charles F. Feeney, and he amassed a fortune of $8 billion. Feeney started his giving in 1984, and as recently as four years ago, still had $1.5 billion to give away.  Last month he completed his work with a final grant of $7 million. Now, at age 85, he is worth about $2 million, which he and his wife Helga consider sufficient for their needs.  Mr. Feeney says that “You can only wear one pair of pants at a time.”  This is a story that needs to be shared.  Charles Feeney earned his fortune and used it in ways that have changed the world.  I think there should be a statue of this man in Washington DC along with our greatest Americans. Feeney has given to support higher education, public health, human rights, and scientific research.  Although he has contributed to more than 1,000 buildings across five continents with $2.7 billion of his giving, his name does not appear in gilded letters or other forms of writing on those buildings.  He worked to ensure his philanthropy leveraged other donations from those who did want those naming rights.  His giving has helped to promote electoral politics, to create public health systems in other countries, to provide access to antiretroviral treatment, to support young emerging leaders who are working in their countries for healthier, more equitable societies, and to help students doing community work We will all leave a legacy of some kind.  A record of our life, what we did, what we believe in, and of our impact on the world.   Mr. Feeney has set a new high on the bar to have a meaningful life, a legacy of giving, and a legacy for having made the world a better place.  I hope you will join me in recognizing and celebrating this man, perhaps one of the most pragmatic and well-grounded people in the history of our country.  He represents the best of us, and his giving has supported the best of our society. Sharing Mr. Feeney’s story is a powerful way to kick off 2017, and I hope you are as inspired as I am.  His giving inspires me to give more (I already have quite a few pairs of pants).  I don’t think I’ll ever be able to watch a James Bond film without thinking of Mr. Feeney, and his life’s secret mission he carried out so professionally. Although it is early in the year, it’s always the right time to think about giving.  If you’d like to explore increasing your philanthropy, or building it into your financial or estate planning, please give me a call.  At the Community Foundation of Western Nevada, we help people, like you, who care about causes that matter. Chris Askin, President, and CEO 775-762-1932