NET WORTH: $1.55 billion
SOURCE of WEALTH: Broadcast.com
FUNDING AREAS: Youth, Education, Nonprofit Fundraising, Dallas Community
OVERVIEW: In 2001, Wagner launched the Dallas chapter of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s After-School All-Stars, for which he has received numerous awards. Along these lines, he also developed MIRACLES technology that provides an after-school education and life skills program for inner-city children. His latest project is Chideo, a digital video network that helps charities market themselves and connects them with potential donors.
BACKGROUND: Wagner attended the University of Indiana and the University of Virginia Law School before moving to Dallas to become a CPA at a law firm. It wasn’t long, however, until he joined with fellow Indiana alum Mark Cuban to found Audionet, the first company to broadcast live sports events over the internet. Eventually, they renamed it Broadcast.com, and in 1998 they took the company public, setting an IPO record, with shares climbing 249 percent. In 1999, they sold the company to Yahoo! for $5.7 billion, making both of them instant billionaires. Along with Cuban, Wagner now has an ownership stake in several entertainment companies, including 2929 Entertainment, Landmark Theatres, Magnolia Pictures, and HDNet.
Wagner has donated around $26 million through his Todd R. Wagner Foundation. In recent years grants have declined, from $2.5 million to $1 million. While most family foundations usually have one or two principal contributors, a lot of the funding for the Wagner Foundation and its programs doesn’t actually come from Wagner, but from contributions from individuals and area businesses. In a recent year, there were roughly 50 contributions ranging from $5,000 to $250,000 for a total of just over $1.1 million. And though his parents made a contribution of $8,000, Wagner’s own name does not appear anywhere on that list.
PHILOSOPHY: “I’ve written a lot of checks in my time and will continue to do so, but I realized there had to be a more efficient way to raise funds,” Wagner told Wealth-X when discussing his new project, Chideo. “There is a limited pool of wealthy individuals and people do get donor fatigue when they get invited to a hundred fundraisers and approached by hundreds of different charities who may or may not have done their research, year after year.” It would seem, then, that Wagner’s approach is largely proactive; he’d rather search out charities he thinks are doing good work on the causes he cares about than have charities approach him, and he’s also interested in using his money to get more people to give.
DALLAS COMMUNITY: Most of the money given out by Wagner stays in the Dallas community, and goes to education and other youth programs. He is the founder of the Dallas chapter of the After-School All-Stars, which provides educational programs and recreational activities for at-risk youth, and is also a frequent donor to the local chapters of the Boys and Girls Club and KIPP. However, Wagner occasionally donates outside the community, as evidenced by his most recent gift of $1 million to Carollwood day School in Florida, to go towards the construction of an athletic complex.
NONPROFIT FUNDRAISING: Wagner has pumped tens of millions into his latest project, Chideo, which is not a non-profit, but helps non-profits raise money. Chideo is a video platform that allows fans to sign up and follow sports stars, celebrities, and other well known figures for free, and ask them to create videos. The user base votes on which videos they want to see, and when a suggestion gets enough votes, the celebrity creates it. Users then pay to see the video, and the fee goes to the charity of the celebrity’s choice. No word yet on how much money has been raised through the platform, but it is part of a growing trend among philanthropists using their resources to encourage others to give. Wagner has recently expanded his fundraising platform, having acquired celebrity fundraising platform Prizeo, as well as online charity auction platform Charity Buzz.
LOOKING FORWARD: While Wagner’s giving has stayed mostly local, he tends to work with large organizations located in Dallas, or be looking to develop branches or chapters in the Dallas area, particularly if those organizations focus on youth and education. But the Chideo project may suggest a broadening of his philanthropic interests, so we’ll have to stay tuned and see if any of the name personalities he's recruited for his project support causes that resonate with Wagner and captures his attention.