There is an old man living today in the United States of America, who upon first glance, appears to be ordinary in every way. He lives a frugal and unassuming life, but this man has set an example for famous billionaires the world over. Economic tycoons such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have all been influenced by him and his approach to life.
To this day, now in his 80s, he lives with his wife in an ordinary rental apartment in the city of San Francisco. He never wears branded clothing, his glasses are trusted and aged, his watches are functional and unglamorous. He does not indulge in decadent foods, in fact, his favorite things to eat are sandwiches with hot milk. He does not have his own car, his primary means of transportation is the bus, and the bag he uses for work is an old plastic bag. If you accompany him to a bar for a drink he will meticulously check the bill. And if you stay overnight at his house, he’ll certainly tell you to turn the power off before sleeping.
But, surprisingly, this frugal man has achieved more than most in life and has riches beyond the dreams of many. What he has chosen to do with these riches is perhaps more surprising still.
Over the course of his life, he has donated more than $8 billion to charitable causes, ranging from university education, public health services, human rights, and scientific research.
Who is this man?
Well, his name is Chuck Feeney. He is considered to be the father of DFS’s global tax-exempt economic group. He is frugal with himself but generous with others. He likes to make money but does not like to spend it on himself.
Chuck Feeney’s contributions to philanthropy and welfare are staggering and far surpass the generosity of any other individual benefactor. For this, he is now known to the United States and the international community as a truly selfless man. But it wasn’t always so.
As the founder of The Atlantic Philanthropies, one of the largest private philanthropic foundations in the world, Chuck’s generosity will continue far beyond his lifetime. But it is within the world of education that his generosity truly knows no bounds. Through his lifetime, he has contributed $588 million to Cornell University, $125 million to the University of California and $60 million to Stanford University. Outside of the United States, he spent $1 billion renovating and then building a further seven new universities in Ireland, before funding two new university built in Northern Ireland.
Incredibly, he also founded a charity fund aimed at providing cleft lip surgery for children in developing countries.
More incredibly still is that Chuck never sought praise for his many contributions. He admirably never revealed his name in association with each donation, but asked for his donations to be made anonymously.
Towards the end of his life, Chuck Feeney’s selfless and astounding deeds were revealed by the media. Leading to the high regard many hold him and his actions to today. He was swamped by reporters, determined to interview him and tell his story. But everyone had just one question that they truly wanted to have answered… How can such a rich man be so indifferent to such a staggering fortune?
When asked why he donated all of his fortunes, Chuck Feeney’s response left the world stunned.
When Chuck eventually did face the press and was asked the inevitable question of ‘why did you choose to donate all of your wealth to charity?’ Chuck Feeney simply smiled and began to tell the audience a story.
“A fox found a garden filled to the brim with ripe fruits. He wanted to eat until he was full to bursting, but he was so fat that he could not get through the hole in the wall. So, for three days and three nights he did not eat or drink anything until his body was slim enough to fit through the hole. Finally, he could get into the garden!
The fox ate until his stomach was bursting, he felt extremely satisfied, but when he wanted to leave, he realized that he could not get out through the hole. Reluctantly, he played the old game: abstaining from food for three days and three nights. The result was that by the time he was slim enough to fit back through the hole, his belly was the same size as when he came in!”
After listening to the story, the captivated reporters erupted with laughter before Chuck Feeney concluded to say, “People are born naked, and then finally die alone.” The reporters’ laughter stopped and he continued. “No one can carry the wealth and reputation that he himself has been striving for, for a lifetime.”
A reporter asked Chuck Feeney once more, “why did you donate all of your fortunes?”
Chuck Feeney smiled cheerfully and gave an unbelievable answer, beyond anyone’s imagination. Met this time with no laughter,
“Because the corpse cover does not have a bag.”
Chuck Feeney has set an example for the rich all over the world. The two great American tycoons, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are openly greatly influenced by him. So much so that they have attempted to adopt his way of thinking and strive to follow in his actions.
“Think for the people while enjoying life at the same time,” Chuck Feeney.