OVERVIEW: The Greenbaum Foundation is the philanthropic project of Jim Greenbaum, a telecom millionaire who has devoted his wealth to saving lives and reducing human and non-human suffering. The foundation gives for animal advocacy, animal abuse prevention, animal sanctuaries, and halting the use of animals in entertainment and testing.
IP TAKE: The foundation takes a tough stance on animal welfare, and mostly gives to animal work in the U.S. and Canada, but does not aceept unsolicited proposals. It prefers funding effective and efficient projects in areas of the highest need that are neglected by mainstream organizations and media.
PROFILE: Some people become wealthy and then pick a cause for their philanthropy. Jim Greenbaum did it the other way around. Greenbaum says he started his career with the intention of making as much money as possible so he could make the world a better place. He’s said that whether he became wealthy or not, this would be the kind of work he would always have been involved in. His approach to philanthropy is passionate but utilitarian, following the Effective Altruism philosophy of calculating and pursuing the greatest quantity of good that money can achieve.
That translates to the foundation’s motto of “Being a bystander to suffering is not an option.” The foundation has consistently given at least $2 million in grants each year. That funding breaks into four categories:
Animal Advocacy & Education: This work is about winning hearts and minds, including funding for Carnism Awareness & Action Network, which attempts to change the way people think about eating meat and persuade them to stop. The group published the book Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows. The funder also backs the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, with advocates against animal research.
Animal Abuse Investigations: This initiative involves organizations that investigate and bust entities that treat animals inhumanely, whether they be circuses, puppy mills, fur companies, or factory farms. One grantee in this program is Mercy for Animals, which focuses on farmed livestock in the meat, dairy and egg industries. And Animal Recovery Mission is a pretty hardcore investigative outfit that nails illegal slaughter, horse racing, animal fighting, and animal sacrifice, to name a few unsavory targets.
Animal Sanctuaries: This is a fairly focused initiative to fund sanctuaries for chimpanzees. Greenbaum has funded Chimp Haven, Fauna, a sanctuary in Montreal, and Save the Chimps.
Animal Testing: With some overlap with other focuses, this program funds groups like the Physicians Committee mentioned above, Stop Animal Exploitation Now, and new grantee the Beagle Freedom Project. The last organization works to rescue beagles from animal experimentation labs and place them in homes as pets. Apparently beagles are the most popular breed of dog used in animal testing, because of their calm, trusting personalities, which is incredibly sad.
Animal welfare grants tend to max out around $100,000, going as low as $1,000 for smaller groups.
As for how grantmaking works, the Greenbaum Foundation has only two trustees, Jim Greenbaum and his wife Lucie Berreby-Greenbaum. And while the funder has no staff, Berreby-Greenbaum serves as its director of animal projects.
A native of Montreal, she is a devoted animal lover, volunteering with a dog rehab center and serving as a board member of the FACE Foundation, a nonprofit that makes grants to pet owners who can’t afford medical procedures.
Jim Greenbaum said via email that they are not currently looking for new animal welfare grantees, but one key common element of the groups he funds is a strong, involved executive director that he believes in:
The vast majority of our grantee organizations are still being run by their founders who serve as their Executive Directors. These women and men are all literally obsessed with the work they are doing. It is not a job to them, but a burning, passionate obsession that drives them to work to the best of their abilities to make the world a better place. They are also extremely capable leaders and administrators with unquestioned integrity. A great idea or organization will only succeed with a capable leader. I will not fund an organization working in one of our focus areas unless I believe in its Executive Director.
Jim Greenbaum, Donor and Trustee
Lucie Berreby-Greenbaum, Trustee and Director of Animal Projects