NET WORTH: $2.3 billion
SOURCE OF WEALTH: GoDaddy
FUNDING AREAS: Veterans, Phoenix Community, Education, Health, Poverty, Emergency Relief, Politics
OVERVIEW: Parsons' pattern of giving is all over the board, although his focus on Phoenix has turned him into a local philanthropic hero there. Through his company's charitable arm, GoDaddy Cares, Parsons has donated millions of dollars to animal welfare and children's and women's charities. Parsons and his wife have also established the Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation in 2011, which has awarded over $64 million to more than 62 charities and organizations worldwide.
BACKGROUND: After high school, Parsons enlisted in the Marine Corps, and was injured during a tour of duty Vietnam, and was injured while on active duty. After the military, Parsons enrolled in the University of Baltimore and studied accounting. He taught himself programming, eventually starting a software company that sold home accounting tools. Parsons Technology, was eventually sold to Intuit for $64 million. Three years later, Parsons founded Internet domain registrar and Web hosting company Go Daddy, where he served as executive chairman before stepping down in the summer of 2014.
DISASTER RELIEF: Parsons had a very high profile in post-earthquake Haiti, giving several donations to Hope for Haiti. The second gift was deemed a PR stunt by those who criticized him for killing an elephant, but Parsons brushed it off, saying, "I don't really care what people think about me.... I do care about using what success I've had to help those less fortunate." There seems to be some truth to both parts of that statement, since the first donation came well before the elephant issue surfaced. Either way, he has shown an awareness that while giving may be strong in the wake of disasters, rebuilding takes time, and requires more long-term support.
VETERANS: Parsons served as a Marine in the Vietnam War, and was wounded in combat, receiving a Purple Heart, Gallantry Cross, and Combat Action Ribbon. It's no wonder then that he is a major supporter of veterans' organizations, and in particular the Semper Fi Fund. He's given the organization at least $11 million, mostly in the form of matching donations.
PHOENIX COMMUNITY: The Parsons Foundation has donated more than $8 million to UMOM New Day Centers, the largest provider of shelters for homeless families and individuals in the state of Arizona. The organization used the money to pay off the mortgage on its New Day Shelter facility in Phoenix, which houses more than 150 people. Parsons had supported the organization for years before the creation of his foundation as well. The foundation also donated more than $4.6 million to the Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS, in part because Parsons lost two cousins to AIDS in the 1980s before the severity of the epidemic was fully understood. More recently, the Parsons Center for Health and Wellness was established thanks to at least $7 million from Parsons. This center is now the new home of the Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS. Near the end of 2014 the foundation gave around $4 million to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Arizona.
POLITICS: In 2012, Parsons donated $1 million to Mitt Romney's Super PAC: Restore Our Future.
LOOKING FORWARD: The Parsons have joined Warren Buffett, Bill and Melinda Gates' Giving Pledge in 2010 and accepted to donate half their wealth to charity. Look for increased giving in areas such as disaster relief, economic development, HIV/AIDS, and community development in his childhood home, Baltimore.
- Laura Mitchell, Executive Director, Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation, email@example.com