NET WORTH: $14.1 billion
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Fidelity Investments
FUNDING AREAS: Health, Arts & Culture, Preservation, Boston Community
OVERVIEW: Although Abigail Johnson is the sixth richest woman in the U.S., it’s a bit difficult to distinguish her philanthropy from that of her family’s. Their biggest giving is in arts and culture, and historical preservation in the Boston area.
BACKGROUND: Abigail Johnson’s grandfather founded Fidelity Investments, and in a move that surprised few, she was recently named CEO. She graduated from William Smith College, and worked briefly at Booz Allen Hamilton before attending Harvard Business School and then going to work at Fidelity. She also serves on the board of Edward C. Johnson Fund, the family’s charitable foundation. The Edward C. Johnson Fund has made more than 450 grants, disbursing more than $225 million to charities since 2000, and the Fidelity Foundation has given away another $200 million.
HEALTH: Aside from funding to Boston area hospitals and medical centers, the Alzheimer Research Forum Foundation has probably been the biggest beneficiary of the Johnson’s wealth, receiving more than $2.3 million. Other health-related organizations they have funded include the Barth Syndrome Foundation, and the Max Planck Society Research Units of Structural Molecular Biology. Johnson recently gave at least $100,000 to Harvard Medical School through an individual donation.
ARTS & CULTURE: The largest recipient of donations from the Johnson Family by far has been the Brookfield Arts Foundation, which was founded by Johnson's father. The foundation, which purchases art and lends it to museums, has received more than $115 million from the Johnsons for its work. Boston’s Peabody Essex Museum and Museum of Fine Arts have also been major recipients, receiving nearly $34 million combined. Other museums, arts centers, and theatres have received smaller donations, and while the majority of these are in the Boston area through the Edward C. Johnson Fund, the Fidelity Foundation supports organizations in a wider geographic area including most recently donations to the Furniture Society in North Carolina, and International Netsuke Society which has chapters in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. They have also funded several Zen gardens throughout the country, as well as a publisher of Buddhist literature.
PRESERVATION: The Johnsons have given smaller donations to numerous historical preservation and conservation societies mainly in the Boston area, though their support really extends throughout New England. They have also helped fund a number of programs focusing on educating about conservation, particularly for kids. The largest of this type of gift has been to the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute, which has received just over $3 million. Grants generally range from around $10,000 to upwards of $150,000.
EDUCATION: The Johnsons have donated to a number of schools through their family fund as well as the Fidelity Foundation. While donations through the family fund tend to have some personal connection, the Fidelity Foundation has a history of supporting a broader range of educational institutions.
BOSTON COMMUNITY: While many of the grants in the Boston area go to historical preservation, the Johnsons also fund Boston-area health centers, Boston-area schools and libraries, and more traditional community organizations, including Boys and Girls Clubs and little league organizations. “The Johnsons are extremely important both as a major employer and as part of the Boston and Massachusetts brand and they are very philanthropic in what they have done,” said Paul Guzzi, president of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.
LOOKING FORWARD: With Johnson recently installed as CEO, she's likely to be busier than ever. At just over fifty, she has a long career in business ahead of her, one which might result in even more money down the line. What's more, Johnson's husband, Chris McKown's, healthcare management background might come into play. Meanwhile these recent changes might give Edward more time to focus on his philanthropy.