Sure, there's your Buffetts, your Johnsons and Richard Gilders—Wall Street guys who have been involved in philanthropy for years. But an increasing number of funders in this space are making more money in their younger years and are turning to philanthropy quite quickly. The most obvious guy is John Arnold, who left the hedge fund world before he was 40 and committed to philanthropy full-time with his wife, Laura.
While the Arnolds are a special case, we are seeing an increasing number of finance winners moving into philanthropy in their 40s and early 50s, while still being involved in business. I've written about quite a few of these funders before, and Edward Lampert is another good example. Lampert is 52 and worth $2.6 billion. He founded his hedge fund, ESL Investments, in the late 1980s, and took over as CEO of Sears in 2013. He and his wife Kinga also establshed a charitable vehicle, the Lampert Foundation, which has gradually been ramping up its giving. Just a few years ago, in 2009, a little over $250,000 was given away. In 2013, meanwhile, more than $1 million went out of the door.
Here are a few must-knows about Lampert's philanthropy:
1. Health is a Priority
Lampert's health philanthropy focuses on fighting cancer. Kinga co-chairs the board of directors of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, which received more than $530,000 from the Lampert Foundation in 2013, and a little under $100,000 in 2012. The Lamperts have also supported the American Friends of UHN Inc. UHN is a network of hospitals in the Toronto area. He has supported the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy, Breast Cancer Alliance, Delete Blood Cancer, and Cold Spring Laboratory, which runs research programs in cancer, neuroscience, plant biology, and more.
Apart from cancer, sums have also gone to Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation ($100,000 in 2013). The motivations here are personal, as Lampert's father died of a heart attack.
2. Lampert's Education Giving Has Mostly Stayed Local
Lampert's giving in this area isn't on the same level as his health philanthropy, but support has largely gone to local schools where the Lamperts have ties. Miami County Day School and Greenwich Academy have each seen recent sums.
3. Lampert Has An Interest in Public Policy
The Lampert Foundation has supported the Ayn Rand Institute. In fact, Lampert is known for being a fan of Ayn Rand. He's also supported the Reason Foundation, an L.A.-based think-tank "promoting choice, competition, and a dynamic market economy," and the Institute for Justice, which describes itself as the "nation's only libertarian, civil liberties, public interest law firm."
Again, the important thing to remember here is that Lampert's philanthropy is likely in its beginning stages. But with a $2.6 billion fortune on hand, one that might rise in the coming years, Lampert and Kinga should be watched for greater giving down the line.
Related: Edward Lampert Profile