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Case Study of a Record Breaking Donor: Charles Francis Feeney

he charities and that causes that they believe in. In 2016 alone, the two top charitable donations were for $500 million each from Phil Knight of Nike and investor-philanthropist Nicolas Berggruen. [1]

However, when it comes to comparing generosity indexes (total donations: net worth), no one comes close to Charles Francis Feeney, the superhero of philanthropy. His lifetime donations have amounted to $6.3 billion and his net worth is currently down to $1.5 million, which makes his generosity index break the scale at 420,000 %! [2]

Compare Charles to Bill Gates. Though Bill Gates is still top contender for the #1 donor of all time at $27 billion in donations, his net worth is still a staggering $84.2 billion, meaning his generosity index lags at 32%. [2]

Charles “Chuck” Feeney is known as The Billionaire Who Is Trying To Go Broke.  He made his fortune from hawking cognac, perfume and cigarettes in his empire of duty-free shops. [3] His foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies, has donated $6.2 billion to education alone. [4] In 1982 he decided to devote his wealth to the service of humanity. A champion of Giving While Living, Feeney has long maintained that people of wealth should use it to better the world during their lifetimes. [5]

Two of the world’s richest men, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, credit Feeney as a major inspiration for both the $30 billion-strong Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Giving Pledge, which has enlisted more than 90 of the world’s richest to (eventually) donate half their wealth to charity. [3]

Because foundations can be funded by untaxed dollars, individuals with significant net income who are inclined to participate in philanthropy typically will do so by creating their own foundation as a means to manage their donations to various causes. Identifying potential donors like Chuck Feeney, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett among your universe of potential donor data can be a daunting task. So having the ability to run query specific searches within your data can be of tremendous benefit in terms of precision and effort saved. Even if you aren’t lucky enough to count Bill Gates amongst your alumni, start by searching for keywords such as founder, foundation, fundraiser and philanthropist.

With your search results you can quickly create a unique donor prospect list that will include your alumni and other stakeholders who have created their own foundations or served on the board of one – and some of these individuals may very well be your next major donors!

The world may never know another Charles Francis Feeney – on a mission to give away their entire vast fortune to good causes – but with a little help from good alumni data and technology, you can be well on your way to finding your own top alumni ready to embark on their own philanthropic adventures.


Sources & Further Reading

[5] Our Story,


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