Chuck Feeney - the Duty Free Billionaire Giving it All Away

By James Mills, Associate Partner, Lighthouse International

“Today's needs are so great and varied that intelligent philanthropic support and positive interventions can have greater value and impact today than if they are delayed when the needs are greater.”

- Chuck Feeney

What would you do with your wealth if you were a billionaire?

I appreciate this is a question you may not be in a position to answer today! However, it is clearly something that the world’s wealthiest legends like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett took seriously enough to encourage fellow billionaires to give their wealth to worthy causes. With Mark Zuckerberg recently following suit.

One relatively unknown billionaire/ philanthropist who inspired Mr Gates and Mr Buffett is Chuck Feeney; a co-founder of the Duty Free Shoppers Group. In total his foundation; The Atlantic Philanthropies, has given away $7.5 billion to causes across the globe since its creation in 1982. So why did Chuck Feeney decide to give so much of his wealth away over the course of more than 30 years?

Here’s a video to explain more…

Chuck Feeney’s motives can be summed up by what he shared in the video...

“Giving while dead you don’t feel anything, but give it away today, you can see what it’s going to do and then you can modify your mistakes. It is clearly more than money. It’s satisfaction that you’re achieving something that is helpful to people. I think you do get satisfaction out of something that happens in the world on your watch.”

Happiness = Helping Yourself + Helping Others

Chuck Feeney has very much aligned himself with the law of giving and receiving - reaping the benefits from the meaning and purpose he feels through the act of giving. Back in 1982 he recognised there were immediate needs and didn’t want to wait until his death to give back.

Keeping a Low Profile

He has deliberately kept a low profile and remained focused on doing what he feels is the right thing - being an example for others through how he lives rather than what he says. In a rare interview with Forbes, Mr Feeney shared how his generosity has even been questioned by those around him, but his response is quite simple - it’s all about happiness and helping others!

“People used to ask me how I got my jollies, and I guess I’m happy when what I’m doing is helping people and unhappy when what I’m doing isn’t helping people.”

You can read more about Chuck Feeney’s incredible story of giving in this Forbes article; Chuck Feeney: The Billionaire Who Is Trying To Go Broke.

If you were a billionaire, where would you want to invest your wealth?

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