Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Who Wants to Be a Billionaire?

How to become a billionaire? Become a millionaire first. That is Chuck Feeney’s motto. Feeney, the second largest giver to charity, followed the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is virtually unknown, but he has given more than $4 billion to charities and plans to give away another $4 billion. As for himself, he lives modestly on less than $5 million, buying his clothes off the rack, taking buses and subways, and living in apartments rather than homes.

Among the charities that Fenney has given to are ones that are fighting for human rights, environmental clean up, peace, and educating the poor. In 2003, he participated in a protest march against the invasion of Iraq in defense of world peace. He has given generously to end the strife in Northern Ireland.

Feeney’s charitable foundation has made contributions to AIDS clinics in South Africa, to educating children in Vietnam, for wastewater treatment in Vietnam, for plastic surgery for children with facial deformities in the Philippines, and to cancer research foundations and groups that get home health care workers into the homes of the needy and poor. He has given more than $1 billion to improve schools in Ireland.

One of his daughters, Leslie Feeney Baily, recalls when a teenager, she ran up an astronomical long-distance phone bill calling friends in Europe. To teach her a lesson about wasting money, her father disconnected the phone and posted a map of local phone booths (back in the days when those were still around). Feeney always understood the value of money and never squandered it, a principle he instilled in his five children at a young age. Today, his children have followed in his footsteps, living modestly and giving graciously.

What would you do with a billion dollars? Would you contribute to charities and live humbly? Would you advocate for causes you believe in? If so, what would they be?
Photo and information from this blog was taken from a New York Times article, Sept. 26, 2007


Sara D. said...

I think that I would donate some money but that I would also use the money to make life easier for my family. I would give a chunk of money to my church and the charities within my church. I would hire a nurse to assist my grandmother in taking care of my grandfather who has Dementia, a form of alzheimers disease. I would give money to my parents so they could pay off their debts and make improvements on the house. I would also pay off my college and my sisters college, she's a senior in high school right now. Then I would set aside money for my other sister, who is 5, for when she goes to college. I think that I wouldn't change my lifestyle too much. I would still buy clothes off the rack, I'm kinda cheap when it comes to buying clothes (ie: I won't pay more than $40 for a pair of jeans, and that's rare as it is I prefer to pay like $20 or $30). I'm sure I would find ways to use the money well but I would hope that it wouldn't change me negatively.

Kelly K said...

First I would take care of all my and my loved ones' debts. Then I would use the money to do something nice for each person in my life who has really helped me. For example, I would buy my parent's a small plot of land. I wouldn't spend money like there was no tomorrow, but I would do things for my family that I have always wanted to, like take my niece and nephews to Disney Land. But other than doing those special things, I think I would take a million dollars, put it in the bank, and, using the interest, set up a scholarship that would pay for two students' full tuition and room and board for all four years of college. Criteria for the scholarship would be based on need and merit. I would also donate money to other charities and would fund a couple projects. There are many things I would contribute to, but I would never go out and spend the inordinate amounts of money on houses and cars that some wealthy people do.

Anonymous said...

First, I think that Chuck Feeney is an amazing individual, if more people were like him, we could solve many of the worlds problems. If I had a billion dollars, I would donate most of it to schools. Today, most schools are so under funded that important programs such as art, music and sports are being cut. These programs are essential to childrens development and critical to becoming a well rounded individual. Even regualr acedemic classes are underfunded and many children have to use old text books and equiptment. An amazing book that will really open your eyes to the short comings of US schools is John Kozal's Savage Inequalities

Victoria said...

I'd save enough to pay for my tuition for the remaining years, pay the taxes i know the government would demand of the money. I'd put a lot of it into the bank and i'd probably donate some, but not nearly as much as this man has.

Kathy said...

If I had a billion dollars I'd probably pay off my family's debts and put some aside for my little brother's tuition. I would also save some to pay off my own tuition. I;d probably then save some for after college when I would like to travel around the world so that I don't have to worry about money but the rest I would want to donate to organizations that help or do research in the areas of AIDS, cancer, the environment, and that assist the poor and promote peace. I'd rather donate that money rather than spending it myself because I feel that I've been pretty lucky to have the life that I do and that there are people who can get better or live better lives with that money.

Nia M said...

That is a good question! There are so many different possibilities-
I would definitely take care of myself and my family so that we could live comfortably, but nothing in excess. I would most definitely donate a large amount of money to the AIDS foundation, to educate and treat people for this unfortunate and unnecessary disease. I would donate money to help organizations such as free clinics, for those people that could not afford adequate health care. I would also want to open an animal shelter.

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