Three Things to Know about Donald Smith's Philanthropy

Donald Smith, president of Donald Smith & Co., an investment firm in New York City, sits on the board of directors of the Cato Institute, a think tank dedicated to the principles of "individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace." Smith is definitely right-of-center, as he explains in a Philanthropy Roundtable article, but his wife Paula leans left. Then there's the Smiths' daughters, one with conservative beliefs, and another who is liberal. Quite the family, right? 

Keep all of this in mind when looking at the Donald and Paula Smith Foundation's philanthropy. In a recent year, the foundation held some $100 million assets, with just under $4 million going out of the door. Here are a few things to know about the Smiths' philanthropy:

1. Supporting Public Policy is Key

Smith has been a steady funder of conservative policy shops such as the Cato Institute, Manhattan Institute, America's Future Foundation, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Some of the foundation's largest sums in recent years have gone to the Independent Women's Forum, which describes itself as a research and educational institution whose mission is to mission is to "improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty." $1.2 million went to the outfit alone in 2013, and another $150,000 went to the outfit in 2012.

Apart from this work, Smith and Paula funded a series of public debates in New York City in past years with a bipartisan selection of speakers.

2. Human Services and Justice are Other Priorities

The Smiths have given modestly to outfits such as the Bowery Mission, Drug Policy Alliance, the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, and City Harvest, a nonprofit that operates in New York City through food rescue and distribution, and education. Smith holds a J.D. from UCLA Law, which might help explain recent support of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, and the Institute for Justice, which describes itself as a libertarian public interest law firm.

3. Assorted Sums Have Gone to Other New York Outfits

The Smiths appear to have some interest in education, and have supported Success Charter Network. Money in this area hasn't been overwhelming of late, however. Smith is also a trustee at Central Park Conservancy, which the couple has supported.

It's worth noting that in recent years, the foundation's largest sums have gone towards a donor-advised fund at Vanguard Charitable Endowment, with $5.4 million going there in the 2013 fiscal year, and $2.5 million going there in the 2012 fiscal year. This makes it tough to get a handle on the full scope of Smith's philanthropy.

Related: Donald Smith Profile