Private foundations and donor-advised funds: meet philanthropy’s new drivers
Private foundations were once the preserve of a narrow group of the monied elite. Today, they are the fastest-growing source of private-sector philanthropy in the US and across the developed world.
In September 2022, the Milken Institute and three of America’s wealthiest families joined forces to commit $150 million to helping people with bipolar disorder. The aim is to help those afflicted with the condition to thrive, rather than just learning to endure life, by crowding capital into a drive to generate research and medical breakthroughs.
At first glance, it looks like run-of-the-mill private-sector philanthropy, where the very wealthy join forces with the well-connected to give some of their money away to needy people and causes.
The institute, a Santa Monica-based non-profit with six offices worldwide, was founded by Michael Milken, the 1980s financer who pioneered high-yield junk bonds. All three families are headed by a self-made billionaire who invested early or well in either tech or financial services: Sergey Brin is co-founder of Google; David Baszucki built video game developer Roblox; and Kent Dauten is chairman of private equity investment firm Keystone Capital.
So far, so simple.