Prominent People in Philanthropy: Barbra Streisand

Barbra Streisand
IMG: Featureflash /

After she had become an internationally acclaimed singer, songwriter, actress, director, and writer, Barbra Streisand tried her hand at philanthropy. And like all of her other ventures, Streisand has found success. In 1986 she founded the Barbra Streisand Foundation, an organization that gives grants to other organizations that work for causes that Streisand supports.

Since its founding, the foundation has donated over $16 million dollars through over 1,000 grants to causes such as voter education, environmentalism, and women’s health. Beyond her foundation, Barbra Streisand also works personally to raise money for good causes. She has raised $25 million through live performances, and she has donated some of her art collection to charity auctions in the past.

Read the rest of her profile here.


Charity Navigator: Donate Effectively

Charity Navigator
IMG: via Charity Navigator

As Americans, we love to give. As  such, thousands and thousands of charities have cropped up, and they have become hard to sift through. Enter Charity Navigator, a non-profit organization that evaluates charities. Charity Navigator would like to help people give and help the charities receive. They find great charities that are working effectively, and they connect these charities with people who would like to give. Today, Charity Navigator has ranked more than 5,400 charities nationwide.

Charity Navigator rates charities based on two broad categories: Financial Health and Accountability & Transparency. These two categories reveal how efficiently charities will use your money, how committed they are to accountability, and how sustainable their visions are for the future.

Charity Navigator has compiled multiple “Top Ten Lists” for some of the top-rated charities, and they organize their rated charities by topic so that you can donate to causes that you really care about.

Want to donate to a great charity? Want to watch your money do real good? Find more tips for smart donating here.


Prominent People in Philanthropy: Conrad Prebys

Conrad Presbys
IMG: via

As a young boy, Conrad Prebys contracted a heart infection which left him bedridden for a year. After he found success in the government sector in San Diego, California, Prebys decided to help others avoid a similar fate. In 2011, he donated $45 million to Scripps Health in order to fund the construction of the Prebys Cardiovascular Institute, a progressive cardiac center that will conduct research, offer graduate-level education, and provide the best in cardiac care.

Beyond his generosity in the medical field, Conrad Prebys has been a longtime supporter of several other arts and technological institutions. Read the rest of his profile here.



Olympians Take Philanthropy to New Levels

The Olympics are famous for the publicity they attract: companies fight to sponsor the games, cities compete to host them, and every media outlet focuses exclusively on Olympics coverage for weeks. Millions in revenue end up in the pockets of everyone involved, including the athletes. Some of these athletes have found a way to turn this new celebrity into something good: philanthropy.

Johann Olav Koss
IMG: via Right to Play

Johann Olav Koss is a Norwegian speed skater who, with 4 gold medals and a silver, is considered one of the best speed skaters in history. He has skated ten world records, and throughout his career he has amassed a collection of medals from Norwegian, European, and international competitions. After he retired from speed skating, Koss became an ambassador for UNICEF, a member of the International Olympics Committee, and he became the CEO of Right to Play, an international humanitarian organization  that uses sports and play programs to empower children and communities in disadvantaged areas and to foster peace.


mia hamm
IMG: via Global Sports Forum

Mia Hamm was the most recognizable  face in women’s soccer for more than a decade; she holds the record for most goals scored internationally for male and female players, and she has inspired an entire generation of young girls playing soccer. She led Team USA to Olympic gold medals in 1996 and 2004 before she retired among accolades. Mia Hamm has done more than play great soccer, however. In 1997, Mia’s adoptive brother Garrett passed away from a rare blood disease, and Mia was inspired to found the Mia Hamm Foundation in 1999. Her foundation is dedicated to her passions in life: raising funds and awareness for families of patients who need transplants, and continuing the growth of opportunities for girls in sports. Mia Hamm has been breaking records and making herself known throughout her entire career; today, she is using her position to help those around her.


Hannah Teter
IMG: GiroSportDesign via Flickr

Hannah Teter, an American snowboarder from Vermont, has taken Olympic philanthropy to new levels. After winning a gold medal in the halfpipe at the 2006 Olympics, Teter decided to found Hannah’s Gold, a charity that raises money for a rural Kenyan community through the sales of maple syrup from her home state. The funds from Hannah’s Gold have gone toward community projects like building schools and creating access to reliable, safe sources of water. In 2009, she donated all of her prize money toward her program in Kenya. Hannah Teter has also worked with PETA, Children’s International, and Boarding for Breast Cancer. In 2010, she launched an underwear line called Sweet Cheeks that donates 40% of its proceeds to Children International.

These three Olympians, past or present, set an example that all competing athletes should follow. Becoming an athlete at the Olympic level is an incredible feat; the world’s eyes are on you, and you have a responsibility to live up to millions of expectations. These athletes have the unique opportunity to use this publicity and fanfare for a bigger cause.




Prominent People in Philanthropy: Katherine Farley

Over the last decade, Katherine Farley has been an invaluable figure on the arts scene in New York City. She’s been involved with the New York Philharmonic and the Lincoln Center for years, and she is currently the chair of the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts. Farley and her husband have been referred to as the “cultural power couple of New York” because of their relentless commitment to philanthropy. Katherine Farley has used her real estate experience as an architect for Tishman Speyer to help redevelop the Lincoln Center Theater.

Farley’s work extends beyond the arts, however. She has worked for women’s rights and for girls’ empowerment. Read about the rest of her accomplishments in her profile here.


Prominent People in Philanthropy: John and Laura Arnold

John and Laura Arnold
IMG: via Arnold Foundation

To say that John Arnold “retired” this May is misleading. John Arnold stopped his work at the hedge fund he managed in order to focus all of his attention on the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, a foundation he and his wife created “to produce substantial, widespread and lasting
reforms that will maximize opportunities and minimize injustice in our society.”

John and Laura Arnold are committed to the change they envision, and they want long-term solutions, not temporary fixes. They have invested much of the wealth they’ve accumulated to criminal justice reform, the restructuring of education for disadvantaged children, and the overhaul of public employee pension programs in their community.

Read the rest of their profile here.


Prominent People in Philanthropy: Glenn Lowry

After his work as the director of the Museum of Modern Art, one would think that Glenn Lowry would be fed up with working for the arts. Nevertheless, Lowry uses his spare time outside of the MoMA to support the arts through groups like the Judd Foundation, an organization dedicated to preserving and spreading the works of Donald Judd, or the American Academy of the Arts, where he’s been named a fellow.

Glenn Lowry has dedicated his life to the arts, and he’s committed his resources and his time to making sure that others can do the same. Read the rest of his profile here.


Prominent People in Philanthropy: Bruce Cohen

Bruce Cohen
Helga Esteb /

Bruce Cohen has created magic onscreen as the producer of critically lauded films such as Big Fish, American Beauty, and Milk. Away from the cameras, however, he tries to create something else: change.

As the president of the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), Cohen works for equal rights for Americans. AFER is currently focused on marriage equality, and they are the sole sponsor for the court challenge of California’s Proposition 8, a proposition that limits the definition of marriage in California. Cohen is involved in more than just AFER’s fight for equality, however.

Read the rest of Bruce Cohen’s profile here.



Prominent People in Philanthropy: Pierre and Pam Omidyar

As a young researcher at an immunology lab, Pam Omidyar spent hours examining cancer cells in her lab. In order to relax after work, she would play video games, and she began to wonder if video games could also act as therapy for children struggling with cancer. And thus began HopeLab, a nonprofit that conducts research on a range of chronic illnesses, and that produces solutions like Re-Mission, a video game that helps youth cope with their cancer.

Pam’s work is made possible by her philanthropic work with her husband, Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay. Together they founded the Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm, which empowers people to help their own communities. Read the rest of their profile here: Pierre and Pam Omidyar.

Organizations Resources

Philanthropy: Available at a Store Near You

For a long time, causes and capitalism ran on parallel yet separate tracks: philanthropists and entrepreneurs alike worked endlessly in order to gain attention and support from the public. Companies sought profit while charities sought aid. Today more consumers are seeking products, services, and retailers that use their influence and their means to support a good cause. Some  People want companies that give back to the community, and retailers have eagerly met this demand. Some companies host short-term campaigns in order to raise awareness and funds for a cause while others have established long-term, committed associations with philanthropies that they believe in. The companies and campaigns highlighted below illustrate how when a capitalist and a philanthropist collide, a new wealth of opportunities arise.

Target, one of the largest discounters in the U.S., is proud of their long history of philanthropy. Target has been donating 5% of their income to local communities since 1946. Their focus on charity has expanded since, and last year they launched an agenda called “Here for Good” that hosts programs surrounding education, the environment, safety & preparedness, and well-being. These programs, coupled with their social services, crisis relief, and their military and veteran support, Target has received accolades for their corporate social responsibility.

A brand-new glasses retailer, Warby Parker, had combined their cause with their product before the first pair of spectacles sold. For every pair of glasses that the company sells, they provide funding and/or glasses to a non-profit organization VisionSpring that trains men and women to sell glasses in developing countries. This model creates jobs while also providing glasses to a few of the almost one billion people worldwide in need of glasses. So far Warby Parker has distributed over 150,000 pairs.

Warby Parker’s model follows in the footsteps of the capitalism-cum-charity giant, TOMS. TOMS began in 2006 as a socially-conscious shoewear company that donates a pair of shoes to a child in need. TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie’s motivation for the company is simple: “If I started a charity, I’d have to go raise money every time I wanted to give them shoes. But if I started a business and made a shoe where the consumer liked it for what it was, then the consumer will be my natural provider of the shoes every year.”

TOMSBy September of 2010 TOMS had donated over 1 million pairs of shoes, and their popularity had exploded. Since its founding, the company has also put on an annual event called One Day Without Shoes that raises awareness for their cause, and they have established campus programs for passionate, involved students. TOMS has been praised as one of the most innovative retail companies of this decade, and it has been the exemplar of the for-profit-as-non-profit movement of the last decade.

These companies have created an easy link between consumers and charity; consumers are able to feel socially conscious and philanthropic while they get to buy the products and services they want. Meanwhile non-profit organizations get access to reliable funding sources and widespread exposure to their cause. The relationship benefits both parties, and most importantly, it benefits the people who need it most.