Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Philanthropy is ‘Earn More First’ and then 'Make a Diffrerece'

Look at these two news articles:

1.       Warren Buffett donates record $2.84 billion to Gates Foundation (Link: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/47964447.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst)

2.       Azim Premzi allocates additional 18% stake in company to fund philanthropy (Link: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/47965910.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst)

Warren Buffet is a wisdom house, Bill Gates a competitive businessman and Azim Premzi is an institution builder. They all were successful in their respective businesses.  They faced cut-throat competition. They did not tolerate inefficiency. If things did not work out as expected, they were quick to fire the people or close those products or business groups. All those decisive actions made them richest people on earth. But now it appears like they are at competition to give away the money. Though we are talking of three people here, the list is actually longer.

If they can quickly give away their wealth accumulated hard way, what did drive them? You would notice that they did not inherit this wealth; they had to struggle to get into billionaire’s list but now dropping out of that list do not give them bitter thoughts and they are doing it happily.

If money is a measure of their success and accumulating wealth is an indicator of one’s hard work, why they do not want to keep it? Why most of it is getting redistributed?

I think what drives them is, ‘Making a Difference’ in the world they live in. Earning money was a by-product though their focus was not to lose money in their businesses and they took all care to maximize returns on the investments they were making. They got things right in their professions and the money followed them. When they were running businesses, they focused on that. Now they are retired, they are well focused on philanthropy. Look at how they give away money. It is very data driven, focused on a cause with rigorous checks ensuring that money given away is actually used for the very purpose and it is a making a difference to the world. They made a difference when they were acquiring wealth and they are making a difference now when they are distributing it. Money is just a tool for them.

During their prime, they just did not make money for themselves. Their investors, customers, suppliers, employees benefited. Now they are putting money to work on the causes they believe in. They are building universities, fighting AIDS, finding vaccines for diseases, providing nutritious food, cleaning the water people drink and so on. All these will lead to leveling of the playground. It provides relief to vulnerable people, offer opportunities to disadvantageous communities. Social inequality gets reduced. And that may lead to birth of new age billionaires who would continue the trend.