We make a point of keeping close tabs on the children of the super-rich, since it's often these heirs who'll do much of the heavy philanthropic lifting to dispose of the vast fortunes built during America's second Gilded Age.
Which brings us to Georgina Bloomberg.
Bloomberg is 32 years old. She’s a single mother, she’s a New Yorker, and she is also the younger daughter of the 14th richest man on the planet, Michael Bloomberg. Her father has pledged to devote most of his vast fortune of nearly $40 billion to philanthropy, and is giving away huge amounts of money. But as we observed last year, Bloomberg will be lucky if he manages to give away half of his money before he dies—which means that his two daughters, Georgina and her older sister Emma, could well have immense influence in directing how his posthumous fortune is spent. Already, both sit on the board of Bloomberg Philanthropies, which has lately emerged as among the top U.S. grantmakers. As well, the Bloomberg daughters may inherit their own independent fortunes that they can tap for philanthropy, although the details here are sketchy. Regardless, these are two people to watch closely.
Last year, we introduced you to Emma. Reflecting on Emma's background in public policy and nonprofit work with the Robin Hood Foundation, we suggested that Emma was the natural shoo-in to carry on the Bloomberg philanthropoic legacy.
Now, though, it appears that Georgina is also hitting her stride in the world of philanthropy.
As a world-class equestrian with more than a few championships under her belt, and as a fierce anti-puppy mill activist, Bloomberg has channeled her love of animals into her philanthropy—an area that will likely continue to underscore her giving philosophy for years to come—adding another wrinkle in Bloomberg funding in future years.
Georgina has been a longtime supporter of animal welfare organizations like the Humane Society and ASPCA, where she serves as Equine Welfare Ambassador. She has served on the board of the Equestrian Aid Foundation and as a committee member of fellow heiress Amanda Hearst dog welfare organization, Friends of Finn. In 2006, Bloomberg even established her own charitable organization to give back to the community where she feels most at home—the equestrian community.
The Rider’s Closet started as an organization that collected and donated gently used equestrian equipment to intercollegiate riding programs and individual riders in need. Today, the Rider’s Closet continues to operate as a program of the New York-based nonprofit Pegasus Therapeutic Riding, which provides equine-assisted activities to people with special needs, veterans and at-risk individuals.
I know, I know. "Wealthy heiress focuses philanthropy on wealthy-person sport" sounds like something you read about in The Onion, not IP. But Georgina seems keenly aware of her own privilege and having the kind of life that has allowed her to make a difference simply by indulging in her own passions. From a recent interview with Haute Living:
I’m so lucky to be in a position where I can raise awareness for the mistreatment of animals. Every day I wake up and think there is nothing I would rather be doing. I believe I was put on this Earth to make a difference in animals’ lives. I’m very lucky that I have been afforded that luxury — to feel this passionate and not help seems very selfish.
When she was 24 years old, Forbes counted Bloomberg as one of its "20 Most Intriguing Billionaire Heiresses." We agree, although we're intrigued for very different reasons. Will Georgina emerge as a power player at Bloomberg Philanthropies? Will she become one of the top animal welfare philanthropists of our time, diverting some slice of the family fortune to an area that rarely commands the big bucks? Actually, both are entirely possible.
Bloomberg makes it clear that she is highly competitive in nature with a high-strung, Type-A personality. You have to be that way to succeed as an equestrian, a demanding and scary sport. Which is exactly why we expect this up-and-coming philanthropist to make waves in any undertaking she pursues passionately—and for now, that passion remains concentrated in the animal welfare space. How very lucky for animal welfare groups.
As for Georgina Bloomberg's broader influence over her family future giving, we'll see how that unfolds. While she sits on the board of Bloomberg Philanthropies with Emma, the foundation's board includes a number of heavy hitters, in contrast to some foundations that are closely controlled by family members.
We reported recently on how George Soros was structuring the governance of his foundation so that his children would not have any real control of the place after he dies. If Bloomberg takes the same route, creating a truly independent board, Emma and Georgina would have more limited influence.