For These Business Leaders, Philanthropy Is Personal

There’s a lot of talk about high-profile philanthropists like Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett, and Mark Zuckerberg. But for every Bill Gates, there are a dozen other business leaders who are quietly doing the right thing and donating their time and money to organizations they find meaningful.

Let’s meet a few high-level business leaders who aren’t in the spotlight but are making an impact through their own philanthropy.

Alex Crisses, a managing director at private equity firm General Atlantic, comes to his philanthropy through a personal journey. When his wife was pregnant with their daughter, the couple discovered that she had a unilateral clubfoot and would require corrective surgery. They turned to the doctors at New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS).

Because HSS was so helpful to them in their journey to treat their daughter’s condition, there was no question that they wanted to be involved with the organization. “We decided we wanted to do whatever we could to repay, not only in that moment, but candidly, for the rest of our lives,” Crisses said in a video about their experience. Crisses serves on the board of HSS’s pediatric counsel and is co-chairman of the hospital’s annual pediatric fundraiser.

Venture capitalist David Bohnett sold his company Geocities (remember that?) to Yahoo! in 1998 and made a cool $300 million in the process. Instead of hoarding the cash, he started his own foundation to give his money to causes that mattered to him. The David Bohnett Foundation focuses on LGBT issues, gun violence prevention, and enriching society through technology and innovation, among other things.

“The future of philanthropy is asking those we’re closest to and that we come in contact [with] the most to join you in getting involved in the passions you both share in common,” Bohnett said in his remarks after receiving the CSQ Visionary Award in Philanthropy, Art, and Culture. “One person can indeed change the world, and for many of those people, they simply need to be asked and given a place to start.”

Laure Sudreau, attorney and investment management professional, has given a total of $11 million to her alma matter, Pepperdine University School of Law. Her latest contribution of $8 million will be used to help advance the impact of the school’s Global Justice Program. Her donation will support and enhance the program’s current offerings and launching new and innovative initiatives that will help people experiencing injustices in the world’s most vulnerable places.

“The world law students are entering is no longer about people being the center of things,” Sudreau said. “It is a world that is about community. I am so proud to be associated with this effort and all of the important work the Sudreau Global Justice Program does on behalf of people in the developing world. The world is in great need of this kind of outreach.”

Ultimately, all three of these philanthropic business leaders are following the advice of theologian John Wesley: “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as you ever can.”