Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Rethinking Charitable Giving

CharityJon Huntsman Sr. has given away approximately $1.5 billion—80% of his total wealth—to worthy causes. Further, Huntsman is spending $200 million building a golf resort and nature reserve in Idaho that will donate all proceeds of real estate sold to his family’s charitable foundation.  Neither of these totals includes his strict tithing to the Mormon church of 10% of his earnings.  “My philanthropy is not born out of my faith.  They require 10% tithing.  I don’t consider that to be philanthropy and I don’t consider it to be part of my philanthropic giving.  I consider it as club dues.” 

Huntsman became wealthy through chemical products group Huntsman Corporation, which he founded in 1970.  However, he did not wait until he was rich to donate, “I have always given money away.  I haven’t always been wealthy—the opposite in fact.  But I have always felt that I wanted people to share it with me.” 

Huntsman’s approach is also shared by Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, who has an estimated net worth of about $200 million.  Stone has developed a theme around the “compound interest of altruism.”  He explains this theory, stating, “Through the compact impact of altruism, I came to understand that people are doing philanthropy wrong.  People generally think about charitable work the wrong way.  They think that when they’re older and comfortable they’ll give some amount of money to something but that’s not the way to do it.  The way to do it is to get involved as early on as possible because . . . the impact you’ll have over your lifetime is far greater than anything you could possibly do if you wait until you think you’re comfortable.” 

Huntsman and Stone’s outlook on charitable giving pose many questions, some of them being whether tithing to a church should be regarded as charity and if philanthropy has become the future of marketing?

See Andrew Cave, Giving to Your Church Doesn’t Count: Jon Huntsman Sr. and Twitter’s Biz Stone On New Philanthropy, Forbes, June 23, 2014.


Estate Planning - Generally, Religion | Permalink

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