The Boston Globe weaves an amusing tale—New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft called Donna Smith Sharff the day before Thanksgiving. When he told her that he would like to make a $100,000 gift to the Children’s Room, she was in shock—probably because she didn’t know that Kraft was the billionaire owner of the successful NFL franchise.
Donations like this occur roughly once or twice a month in the Boston area, many of them to the degree of six-figures. Many of the nonprofit owners contact have a reaction very similar to Donna’s—bewilderment and an eventual realization that they have received a sizeable donation from the Patriots’ owner.
It is not uncommon of the wealthy to make sizeable donations of this variety. However, Robert Kraft’s situation is unique. While he has made philanthropic donations for several years, it hasn’t been until the past 4 years that he was intimately involved in the process like his wife Myra.
4 years ago, Kraft’s wife Myra passed away. Myra had always been the one at the forefront of the Krafts’ philanthropic endeavors, dedicating her life to sharing her family’s riches. In honor of Myra, Robert Kraft has begun to become more involved in the process of making donations and, more importantly, making personal connections with the nonprofits he makes donations towards.
According to Josh Kraft, one of their four sons, “that was his refrain for a long time: ‘I thought she would outlive me. I thought she’d be around forever. I thought ma would be here to give away money when I was gone, but the script got flipped and here I am.’”
“He’d always say, ‘I’ve got to figure out the philanthropy stuff and I don’t even know how to go about it.’”
While the transition was not quick or easy, Robert Kraft has made his family’s philanthropy his own thing, using his own personal style.
We are proud of Robert Kraft and we hope to hear more stories about his surprise philanthropy calls. Keep an eye on your phones, New England!