A Wall Street Giver Comes Through for Refugees: The Philanthropy of Clifford Asness

Clifford Asness is a cofounder of AQR Capital Management, which has over $130 billion in assets under management. He and his wife Laurel were recently honored with a Humanitarian Leadership Award from the International Rescue Committee in recognition of their long-time support of the organization. IRC is on the ground in more than 40 countries, providing emergency relief, relocating refugees, and rebuilding lives in the wake of disaster.  

The couple's committment to the International Rescue Committee began in 2005 with a $50,000 donation. These days, they are giving at least $2.5 million annually. The couple's work with this organization headlines their philanthropy, but here are a couple of other things to know:

1. Modest Sums Have Gone to Local Human Services Outfits

Money has recently gone to United Way in Greenwich, and Camba, a nonprofit that "provides services that connect people with opportunities to enhance their quality of life." It's worth noting that, apart from their support of IRC, the couple's philanthropy tends to stick to the Northeast where they live and work.

2. Health is Another Interest

Asness' mother ran a medical education firm, which perhaps helps explain the couple's interest in this area. They've supported organizations like Saint Barnabas Health Care System, Yale New Haven Health Services, and New York Presbyterian. They've also supported Primary Care Progress, whose donors also include conservative funders like Seth Klarman and Roger Hertog. Primary Care Progress describes itself as a "nonprofit working to revitalize the primary care system and address the national shortage of primary care providers and leaders."

3. Asness is Right of Center

Asness is a trustee at consevative policy outift the Manhattan Institute, and recently made some controversial comments about global warming. On the other hand, he backed a push to legalize gay marriage in 2011, and also wrote a piece for the American Enterprise Institute criticizing his fellow Republicans for not taking up the issue of civil rights more forcefully.

It's also worth noting that the couple has given modestly to environmental outfits such as Ausbon Sargent Land Preservation Trust, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the Yellowstone Park Foundation. For now, it doesn't even appear that Asness and Laurel have a charitable foundation but the important thing to remember in all of this is that Asness is only in his late 40s, so the giving they're doing now might expand down the line.

Related: Clifford Asness