The Ken Griffin’s of Tomorrow Must Consider Diversity of Giving

With Juneteenth fresh on our minds, Rally Point Co-Founder and Managing Partner Dorian Langlais examines the impact of charitable giving and diversity. 

Giving back is a good thing. There is no shortage of the wealthiest people who prioritize giving to a host of causes that are close to them – museums, nonprofits and schools.

But let’s be clear, not all giving is the same. Motivation and impact are two key factors.

If I have $1,000 to give and am presented with someone who has no problem paying their mortgage or a single mother who lives paycheck-to-paycheck and struggles to pay her rent, it’s no mystery who needs and benefits from my gift more.

So it struck me on a Tuesday afternoon in April as I watched CNBC and heard a report that Ken Griffin the incredibly successful billionaire co-founder and CEO of hedge fund Citadel donated $300 million to his alma mater of Harvard. That’s in addition to $150 million he donated to the school in 2014.

I don’t begrudge anyone who, from the kindness of their heart, is motivated to give and help others. Philanthropy is a key to wealth planning and giving back.

But allow me to bring some perspective to when doing good is more about a headline than real help.

First, Harvard has the world’s – not the country’s — but the world’s largest endowment at $51 billion. Its business school is a pipeline to opportunity and careers not afforded to students, particularly historically marginalized groups, who for various reasons have little to no chance of attending this prestigious Ivy League school (or any Ivy League school for that matter).

What am I getting at?

Giving should be done with generosity and with a goal of having the most impact.

A recent McKinsey report found 32% of managing directors at private equity firms globally are ethnic or racially diverse. And in the U.S. and Canada, investment committees are only 9% ethnic or racially diverse.

In recent years, the investment industry has tried to say the right thing when it comes to diversifying its ranks especially after police brutality against Blacks across the U.S. gave rise to protests and diverse employees across corporate America demanding more from their employers.

So let’s imagine for a moment how far Ken Griffin’s $300 million dollar gift to the well-endowed Harvard would go if it was instead given to a historically black college or university like Howard or Spellman – schools not regarded as a manufacturing plant for most of the world’s millionaires and billionaires as Harvard is? Yeah, that could change some futures. It could create some opportunities.

Griffin’s name may end up on a building. It’ll probably find its way to help some diverse students along the way.

Many of us want to give back to the institutions that we hold dear and helped us on the path to our success. But as citizens of this country and this world, it’s imperative for those who have a lot, to recognize that giving to those in need produces more than a great media headline: it creates opportunity, better outcomes and far-reaching impact on lives of historically marginalized groups.

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