On the 18 of September, the Atlantic Philanthropies released Atlantic Insights: Giving While Living, a 56-page publication that explores Founder Charles “Chuck” Feeney’s long-standing belief in “Giving While Living,” the idea that people with wealth should use it during their lifetimes to help others. Written by journalist and philanthropy expert Heidi Waleson, the book also features other donors who have decided to devote the majority of their fortunes to philanthropy.
Billionaire entrepreneur Feeney, who made his fortune as co-founder of Duty Free Shoppers, created Atlantic in 1982. In 1984, he made what Waleson says was the “unusual” decision to donate virtually all his personal wealth, an amount estimated between $500 million to $1 billion, to his foundation.
Some 17 years later, Feeney’s belief in Giving While Living inspired Atlantic’s board to limit the foundation’s life to a fixed number of years. Unlike foundations that have to manage their endowments for perpetuity, Atlantic had the freedom to make “big bets” — large philanthropic investments designed to address deeply rooted problems sooner than later and produce lasting results.
Both Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have said Feeney influenced their thinking about philanthropy, including the decision to launch the Giving Pledge in 2010 to inspire wealthy people to give the majority of their net worth to charity. In addition to Gates and Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, Dustin Moskovitz and Cari Tuna, and Sean Parker among others, have also taken inspiration.
In addition to this Insights volume, Atlantic recently released a short documentary on Feeney’s life and philanthropy in order to spread awareness of Giving While Living. As Feeney says in both the book and film, “I see little reason to delay giving when so much good can be achieved through supporting worthwhile causes today.”
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