He didn't just pledge it, he gave it away while alive
A billionaire has left himself just $2m after giving away his $8 billion fortune to charity.
Charles Feeney, 89, the co-founder of Duty Free shopping, spread his money out through donations to different charities, universities and foundations of his choosing.
Feeney said he is “happier than ever” after setting aside $2million for him and his wife to live on, and donating the rest of his massive fortune.
“We learned a lot,” he said. “We would do some things differently, but I am very satisfied. I feel very good about completing this on my watch.”
Set up in 1982 to disburse much of Feeney’s wealth, Atlantic Philanthropies made 6,500 grants over the period, with its last financial commitment made at the end of 2016. It has been in wind-up mode for a number of years.
Feeney and his wife Helga celebrated with a Zoom call that included a video message from Bill Gates. US Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi sent Feeney a letter from Congress thanking him for his life’s work.
Feeney was known for making a promise to give away all of his money to charitable causes, and is known as the James Bond of Philanthropy due to his previous desire to make his donations anonymously.
The former billionaire was known for creating the idea called Giving While Living, which is to spend money on charities during one’s lifetime instead of after death. “And to those wondering bout Giving While Living,’ Feeney said. “Try it, you’ll like it.”
He gave $3.7billion to education – including nearly $1billion to his alma mater Cornell. Feeney also donated more than $870million to human rights and social change causes including $62million in grants to abolish the death penalty in the US and $76million for grassroots campaigns supporting the passage of Obamacare medical insurance, according to Forbes.
Feeney’s generosity has even inspired well-known billionaires like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, who raved about the man’s giving ideologies.
“He’s a model for us all,” Buffet said. “It’s going to take me 12 years after my death to get done what he’s doing within his lifetime.”’
Gates said that Feeney encouraged him to give back more to the world and inspired him and other philanthropies to donate as much as possible during their lifetime. “Chuck created a path for other philanthropists to follow,” Gates said.
“No one is a better example of that than Chuck. Many people talk to me about how he inspired them. It is truly amazing.”
Feeney and his wife now live in a modest San Francisco apartment with a plaque that says “Congratulations to Chuck Feeney for $8billion of philanthropic giving.”