NET WORTH: $3.3 billion
FUNDING AREAS: Veterans, cancer research, patent law reform, disaster relief, education
OVERVIEW: Mark Cuban is an outspoken supporter of veterans and their families, and he has also donated to causes such as cancer research and patent law reform. Overall, though, Cuban's track record of public grantmaking is pretty thin.
BACKGROUND: While Mark Cuban is probably best known as the owner of the Dallas Mavericks and as an investor on the TV series Shark Tank, he got his start in the tech industry. Growing up in Pittsburgh and attending the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, Cuban had several entrepreneurial ventures during his early years. His first major business success was MicroSolutions, which he sold to CompuServe for $6 million. But he achieved far greater success with a streaming video company he founded with Todd Wagner, Broadcast.com, which was acquired by Yahoo! in 1999 for $5.9 billion in Yahoo! stock. From there, Cuban diversified his portfolio, and now owns the Landmark Theatre Chain and Magnolia Productions, along with investments in many other businesses.
VETERANS: In 2003, Cuban founded the Fallen Patriot Fund to help families of U.S. military personnel killed or injured during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Since its inception, the fund has given out more than $5 million in grants. Cuban gave the majority of that money, but the fund also encourages donations from others. When he launched the fund, Cuban announced he would personally match the first $1 million in donations, though the amount donated from third parties is unknown.
HEALTH: One of the few donations on record that Cuban made outside the Fallen Patriot Fund was a $75,000 donation in 2012 to 1 Million for Anna, a foundation that fights Ewing’s Sarcoma, a form of childhood cancer. He also donated to find a cure for Hunter syndrome, an inherited genetic disorder.
PATENT LAW REFORM: In December 2012, Cuban donated $250,000 to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an organization that confronts cutting-edge issues in defending free speech, privacy, innovation and consumer rights, and which champions the public interest in critical battles affecting digital rights. The donation, he said, was to "eliminate stupid patents" and assist with legal efforts to reform the patent system.
DISASTER RELIEF: In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Cuban announced a pledge of $1 million for disaster relief and rebuilding efforts. Prior to this announcement, he had already made $7500 in grants to the Food Bank of NYC to help them through the disaster. In 2016, in response to the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Cuban donated $1 million to the Dallas Police Department to protect the LGBT community.
EDUCATION: In 2015, through his foundation, Cuban donated $250,000 to Code.org. In 2015, Cuban donated $5 million to Indiana University, his alma mater, in order to create the Mark Cuban Center for Sports Media and Technology. He also supports the Hockaday School in Dallas. In 2015, he granted almost $100,000 to the UCLA Foundation.
OTHER ISSUES: Every time the NBA fines Cuban, he matches that fine with a donation. During his 14 years as the Mavericks’ owner, this practice has resulted in $1.9 million in donations. Similarly, Cuban donated $30,000 to the charity CyberSmile, an "anti-cyberbullying nonprofit organization," after dropping the F-bomb twice during a charity fundraiser, and gave $100,000 to the iBelieve Foundation—which raises money for Hunter syndrome—after being fined for confronting game officials on court at the conclusion of a game. Both donations were made as a sanction for using profane language. In 2015, he gave $250,000 to the Special Olympics through his foundation, and another $25,000 to the Austin Street Shelter, a homeless shelter in Dallas.
LOOKING FORWARD: Mark Cuban has not signed the Giving Pledge or indicated how much of his fortune he will eventually give to philanthropy. But his entrepreneurial spirit and his love of sports and entertainment point to a number of possible outlets for Cuban’s charity in the future. His brother Brian has been listed in the past as the executive director of the Mark Cuban Foundation, so his decisions may provide hints in the future about Cuban family philanthropy.
LINKS: Fallen Patriot Fund