Dirk Ziff is the eldest son of publishing and media giant William Ziff Jr., and along with his two brothers, he's made big money in hedge funds, and is now worth $4.8 billion. He does much of his giving through the Natasha and Dirk E. Ziff Foundation, and while the environment is not a major priority, Ziff has sent enough money to this area over the years to make him worth keeping an eye on.
Over the years, Ziff's biggest recipient of environmental donations has been the National Audubon Society. Ziff has been making donations to the bird and wildlife conservation organization since 1996 totaling close to $500,000. Ziff has made smaller donations to the Peregrine Fund and the NRDC, totaling less than $50,000 combined.
A lot of the foundation's recent philanthropy in this area homes in on Massachusetts. In recent years, Ziff has made a five-year pledge of $125,000 to the Farm Institute. He's also supported the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound and the Urban Ecology Institute at Boston College with a steady stream of money in recent years. Outside of Massachusetts, Ziff has also supported the Westchester Land Trust and Central Park Conservancy in New York.
Ziff has shifted away from the Massachusetts-New York locus with two of his biggest gifts in recent years. Securing America's Future Energy Foundation (SAFE) is a non-partisan energy reform organization in Washington, D.C., while the Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas (ASPO) is an international organization with similar goals. Both organziations have received over $166,000 from the foundation. Finally, Ziff has supported the Conservation International Foundation and For the Forest.
While Ziff's forays in this area thus far have been pretty modest, he's still only fifty and he and other brothers are getting out of the hedge fund business, which could possible free up more energy for philanthropy.
In finance, the Ziffs have been described as "patient money." Dirk Ziff has been known to allow his family’s money to sit in low performing T-Bills so that he could spend time gathering information and talking to other experts before he made any type of decision about where the money should be invested.
It’s likely that he takes and will continue to take, the same approach to his philanthropy.