Giving Stories

Inspirational stories

These giving stories were selected from hundreds of inspirational stories for their relevance to high net worth giving and million dollar donors. We would like to thank our partners at Bolder Giving, Bridgespan Group and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors for providing us with these stories.

Lisa and Charly KleissnerValues-Based Giving

The Kleissners have dedicated countless hours and utilized their skills, networks, and know-how to impact what they are passionate about.

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John SimonJohn Simon and the GreenLight Fund: Proudly Not Invented Here

What is the best way to help proven nonprofit models spread to new cities? John Simon tried several tactics and then invented a new approach.

View John's story

Jeff WalkerJeff Walker and NPower: Building on Existing Success

Philanthropist Jeff Walker began with a desire to help nonprofits stuggling with technology, discovered that a nonprofit with a similar mission already existed, and built it into a thriving national enterprise.

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Peter and Carolyn LynchThe Lynch Foundation and Teach For America: How Philanthropy Can Help Ideas Become Reality

Peter and Carolyn Lynch take a portfolio approach to their philanthropy, and Teach For America is just one example of how they’re returning outsized impact for their investment dollars.

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Joshua MailmanPhilanthropy and Corporate Social Responsibility

I try to remind myself that if I’m making more, I can give more. Giving from a foundation isn’t enough when you’re wealthy, because that money was already given. We’ve got to remember to keep giving.

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Harry and Carol SaalGrowing Our Giving

For over 15 years we have been giving well beyond 100 percent of our income, roughly $1 million a year. We set up a supporting foundation that pays 6 percent out of a corpus of $17 million. Personally, I think this is not aggressive enough!

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Jennifer and Peter BuffettThe Buffetts Find "the Sound"

A gift from Peter's father led to a period of learning and exploration, and to the creation of the Spirit Foundation, so named because Peter and Jennifer wanted to stay under the radar and to be reminded that the spirit of giving was a value they held.

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Lewis CullmanThe Art of Making and Giving Money

My first advice about philanthropy came from my mother. She said, “Who cares what is said about you after you’re dead?” And now, from personal experience, I encourage giving while one’s alive.

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Abigail DisneyThe Power of Personal Engagement

A lot of people give away the froth on their cappuccino. Why stop there? Over the past 10 years, I give all the income I don’t spend. I’ve given away about a third of my net worth, although it has come back to me as quickly as I’ve given it away.

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Connie DuckworthConnie Duckworth Weaves a Way for Afghan Women

Building a small business in Afghanistan—a country where women and girls are virtually invisible—was a logical next step for Duckworth, who had spent her entire career helping women carve out a presence in the business sector.

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Alexander GaguineGiving Before You Receive

When I was 44, I persuaded my dad to change his estate plans so those millions would go directly into a private foundation. In the years before and after my father’s death I’ve enjoyed the challenge and satisfaction of seeing that money support positive change in the world.

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Carol NewellMaximizing Giving

So many of us are hemmed in by traditional rules about money: you should always maximize profits; you should never touch the principal, nor talk openly about money, nor do business with friends, nor mix business with charitable concerns. As soon as I started breaking those rules, I started having a much bigger impact.

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Phil VillersPhilanthropy Through Action

After 10 years in business, growing three computer companies, it was time for action. I determined an ambitious yet focused goal: to improve quality of elder people’s lives.

View Phil's story

The Million Dollar List, compiled by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, documents publicly announced gifts of $1 million or more. The Million Dollar List is not a comprehensive record of all million-dollar-plus gifts.

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