The Magazine

The Duke of Duty-Free

How to spend money without attracting attention.

Feb 11, 2008, Vol. 13, No. 21 • By MARTIN MORSE WOOSTER
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Moreover, hands-on donors can--and do--make major mistakes. For three years in the mid-1990s, Feeney personally donated $20,000 a month to Sinn Fein, the Irish Republican Army's political arm, for what Feeney said was a way of advancing the peace process in Northern Ireland. Although the Atlantic Philanthropies was technically not involved, the foundation's reputation was sullied for years by its founder's gifts to Sinn Fein.

What can donors learn from Chuck Feeney's experience? First, give to causes you believe in: People who make fortunes are smart enough to know how they should be used. Second, the most effective donors are those who avoid the limelight. What matters, in the long run, is not how many prizes a donor wins, but whether or not he gives wisely.

Martin Morse Wooster, senior fellow at the Capital Research Center, is the author, most recently, of The Great Philanthropists and the Problem of Donor Intent.