Billionaire couple Rob and Karen Hale have already established a reputation for philanthropy in and around their hometown of Boston, MA. Prior to this year they have given around $300 million to cancer fighting charities. In 2022 they decided to take a new approach.
As first reported by the Patriot Ledger, Rob and Karen have cut dozens of big checks this year, totaling tens of millions of dollars. Those checks have gone out to worthy organizations like the Boston Children’s Hospital, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Connecticut College. By the time the year is over, they will have donated $1 million per week, $52 million total, to 52 different small charitable organizations.
Smaller non-profit organizations are often run on a financial tightrope, and Hale says he hopes to make many of the contributions in the form of charity endowments:
“These are great, impactful organizations but they’re on a wing and a prayer. They have no financial certainty.”
A charitable endowment is a large sum of money that’s invested in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and other dependable financial products. Upon receiving the donation, charities can choose to either draw from the principal or use the interest for expenses as well as new and existing initiatives.
The Hales reportedly started writing endowment checks to financially strapped organizations in March of this year, with 22 endowments established in all so far. Altogether (including endowments and other donations), they’ve given away $28.5 million to 29 organizations, with more money pledged to another 11. That puts the count at a little under $40 million to 40 different organizations, so they’re running about on schedule for mid-October – if you count the money they’ve pledged but haven’t actually given away yet, with paperwork still to be completed.
No matter how you count the money up, it’s an ambitious philanthropy project that could give financial stability to a lot of grassroots organizations that would otherwise be operating basically hand-to-mouth. As Tyrone Freeman, professor of philanthropic studies at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy put it to Forbes:
“A lot of organizations desire to have endowments, but don’t have the capacity to build them or donor bases. For your average social service agency, arts organization or health clinic, a million dollars could go a long way.”
Hale says his zest for philanthropy had modest beginnings. Rob earned his $5 billion fortune as the co-founder and President of Granite Telecommunications LLC. Granite generates around $1.7 billion in annual revenue selling data and voice communication services to governments and roughly 2/3rds of the Fortune 100.
In 2011, employees at his company, Granite, started a group that donated $3 each to a different given charity every Casual Friday, the total take being matched by the company. Now, he’s on track to give away a million bucks for every week of 2022.