Make Philanthropy a Priority

For hundreds of years, successful businesspeople have found ways to give back.

Benjamin Franklin began a legacy of philanthropy that has becomean unspoken expectation of becoming a successful American manager.Franklin's most notable philanthropic contributions were two$5,000 nest eggs, which he bequeathed to the cities of Boston andPhiladelphia with instructions that the cities not touch the moneyfor 100 years. By the end of the first 100 years, the funds hadgrown to almost $400,000 for Boston and about $150,000 forPhiladelphia. Each fund eventually endowed important educationalinstitutions in both cities.

In the next century, Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefellerestablished a pattern of philanthropy for all Americanbusinesspeople who followed them. Carnegie's sentiment was thathe who dies rich dies disgraced. Before his death, Carnegie gaveaway almost all his money to a wide variety of institutionsincluding universities, peace organizations and public libraries.Similarly, Rockefeller's philanthropy included endowments tothe University of Chicago and to Spelman College, the nation'sfirst college for African-American women.

All eyes are upon the current crop of successful Americanmanagers as their fortunes continue to escalate. Cable televisionvisionary Ted Turner fired the first shot a few years ago with a $1billion gift to the United Nations. Bill Gates recently establishedthe Gates Foundation, dedicated to global health and learninginitiatives, with total assets of $17 billion. Most likely,additional substantial gifts will come later. Regardless, allAmericans have benefited from the legacy of philanthropy begun byFranklin and continued to this day.

Excerpted from Ben Franklin's 12 Rules of Management

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