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Why Did Chuck Feeney Devote His Wealth to Philanthropy?

“I believe strongly in giving while living. I see little reason to delay giving when so much good can be achieved through supporting worthwhile causes today. Besides, it's a lot more fun to give while you live than to give while you are dead.” – Chuck Feeney

Chuck Feeney’s decision to devote his wealth to philanthropy grew out of a deeply held belief that people of great means should use their wealth to address today’s problems and make a difference now.

He didn’t just make a big gift to fund Atlantic and then leave the scene. Instead, he transferred virtually his entire personal fortune to the foundation and remained deeply engaged as its Founding Chairman, routinely drawing on the entrepreneurial skills that made him successful in business to guide and influence its grantmaking.

Feeney, who once said that people who give in their lifetimes “will have a lot of fun doing so,” elaborated on that in a 2011 letter to fellow philanthropist Bill Gates. He described how his decision to establish Atlantic in 1982, had rewarded him over and over again:

“The process of—and most importantly, the results from—granting this wealth to good causes has been a rich source of joy and satisfaction to me and for my family…The challenges, even setbacks, I have experienced in my decades of personal engagement in philanthropy pale in comparison to the impact and deep personal satisfaction.”

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