The Philanthropic Defense
PENTA DAILY | Insights and advice for families with assets of $5 million or more.AUGUST 5, 2013 3:38 P.M. ETThe Philanthropic DefenseBy ROBERT MILBURNTIGER 21 has stepped up its game in the field of philanthropy.TIGER 21 is, as regular readers of Penta know, a peer-to-peer investment group for high net worth investors. The groupcurrently has 210 members with an average net worth of $70million. To learn more about their rather brutal peer reviewsof portfolios, called “Portfolio Defense”, read Penta’s pastcoverage here and here.
Now, using the TIGER 21 technique ‚Äì a member “defends”his or her philanthropic choices as peers critically analyze theirallocations and thinking ‚Äì group members are honing theirphilanthropic skills and effectiveness. It started three yearsago when topics like asset allocation and accountability creptinto the more perfunctory philanthropic debates. Realizingmore was needed, TIGER 21 founder Michael Sonnenfeldthelped build the “Philanthropic Defense,” the group’s platformfor determining charitable best-practices, and, by extension,applying members’ entrepreneurial energy and insights to gift-giving.
It’s not a surprise, really. TIGER 21 is simply reflecting the largerdebates occurring throughout the philanthropic sector, withmembers asking “How can I mobilize my charitable dollarsbeyond feeling good to actually doing some good,” or “How canI take my entrepreneurial skills and apply it to my philanthropicinterests?” TIGER 21 has also embarked on discussions aboutthe appropriate role of family foundations. Does every familyneed one or are there less costly and more effective ways ofdistributing charitable dollars?
Among the TIGER 21 debaters is Ron Bruder, founder ofthe real-estate firm, The Brookhill Group. Bruder runs thenonprofit Education For Employment (EFE), a charity targetedat unemployed youths in the Middle East and Northern Africa,where youth unemployment is typically above 25%. The charity’sobjective is to educate and train these underemployed youngpeople for private sector employment.
Bruder says he got his money’s worth from TIGER 21 when, at aparticularly peer review meeting, he was relating the challengesof running a nonprofit. A fellow member suddenly exclaimed,”Ron, it’s a business! Think about it as a business.” Bruder says,”That was very helpful.”
Since inception in 2006, Bruder has given $10 million of his ownmoney to start the program, run through partially-independentlocal foundations, which does things like qualify Palestinianyouths as construction managers. Prompted by the TIGER 21 comment, Bruder instituted for-profit metrics to his nonprofitwork, carefully documenting how many EFE graduates actuallyget jobs. So far EFE has helped employ 3,300 young people.
“It’s the most exciting thing I’ve ever done in my entire life,”Bruder says.
In 2011, Bruder was named to Time Magazine’s TIME 100 list ofthe most influential people in the world. Though most of EFE’ssuccess is due to Bruder’s relentless enthusiasm, he attributesat least some of this success to that initial bit of TIGER 21advice.
Thomas Gallagher is a former vice-chairman at Oppenheimerand another TIGER member. During the terrorist attacks on9/11, Gallagher suffered emotionally when he witnessed thehorror first-hand just outside his office. The executive, nowretired, wanted to help and for a while bounced around untilhe found his philanthropic calling. His son has served in themilitary for fifteen-plus years, and Gallagher was struck when hebegan learning about the number of veterans returning from thewars in Iraq and Afghanistan with PTSD (post traumatic stressdisorder).
Gallagher raised about a half million dollars and partnered withthe drug addiction/rehab facility Phoenix House that has, so far,helped about 30 veterans cope with the stress of returning tocivilian life. He, too, credits TIGER in his evolution from passivecheck-writer to active philanthropist. The peer-run organization,he says, makes members charity-conscious. “I’m proud to bepart of a group that’s actively making the world a better place,”he says.
Interest piqued? TIGER 21 members must submit to a rigorousvetting process that confirms they have more than $10 millionin investable assets; must sign a nondisclosure agreement; andpay annual dues of $30,000.THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED ON BARRONS.COM IN THE PENTA DAILY SECTION ON AUGUST 6, 2013.¬©2013 BARRON’S