August 29, 2013

Philanthropy, a Labor of Love: Nine Donors Share Inspirational Wisdom

For many philanthropists, tackling society's toughest problems instills a profound sense of meaning and satisfaction.

By: Johnny Devilla
Philanthropy_Giving_Hands-holding-plant.jpgTackling society's toughest problems is difficult, complex work, but for many philanthropists that work is a labor of love. "Philanthropy has had a major impact on my life," says Pitt Hyde, founder of AutoZone Inc. and the J.R. Hyde III Family Foundation. Pitt and his wife, Barbara, President of the J.R. Hyde Sr. Family Foundation and the J.R. Hyde III Family Foundation, have dedicated hard work and perseverance to their philanthropic focus areas, for example, revitalizing public education in Memphis.

Pitt says that although he's always been in involved in giving back, the transition to becoming more directly involved has made a profound difference in life. "We went from being passive investors in the community to totally taking on leading-edge issues and trying to solve those problems," he says. "To me it’s like building a business—you feel a real vested interest in it and you’re really determined, whatever it takes and whatever time it requires to get a positive outcome, and it’s so rewarding when you do." Says Barbara of the role philanthropy plays in their lives. "It’s become a mission and a purpose and a joy and a bonding thing for our families—it’s very central now to who we are," she says.


Herb Sandler has a similar take. The philanthropist and his late wife, Marion, co-founded the Sandler Foundation and injected freshness into the once-stagnant field of asthma research and treatment. "Philanthropy has been very important for me and for our family," he says, and believes it "made us better human beings." Although he had resounding success in the business world as the co-founder, along with Marion, of the Golden West Financial Corporation, philanthropy occupies an even more important place in his heart. "Business success is great," he says. "Philanthropic success is greater."

See what these and other philanthropists say about how philanthropy has changed their lives, what motivates them to give, and how seeing others' lives transform provides a beacon of hope to all:

“From passive investors to taking on leading-edge issues”: The Hydes reflect on why philanthropy has had a major impact on their lives

Barbara and Pitt Hyde, Hyde Family Foundations; AutoZone, Inc.
“We think of it as a privilege, to be in a position to give back to the community,” says Pitt Hyde. Barbara adds, “It’s become our lives in a lot of ways–it’s become a mission and a purpose.”


Visit Barbara and Pitt Hyde's Profile »

Why help others? Herb Sandler is driven by philanthropy’s “psychic income”

Herb Sandler, Sandler Foundation
“The fact of the matter is that Marion and I got an enormous amount of psychic income when, through our good fortune, we were able to help others improve their lives,” says Sandler.


Visit Herb Sandler's profile »

Meeting Nayna: For the Buffetts, seeing one girl’s resilience was “not heart-breaking, it was heart mending”

Jennifer and Peter Buffett , NoVo Foundation
For Peter and Jennifer Buffett, meeting Nayna, a young trafficking survivor in India, was most striking not for the horrors she retold, but for her resilience—and her belief in the possibilities for her future.


Visit Jennifer and Peter Buffett's profile >

How philanthropy has changed the way Laura Arnold sees herself and the world

Laura (and John Arnold), Laura and John Arnold Foundation
“The ability to engage in transformative philanthropy has made me, in every sense of the word, better,” says Laura, who credits philanthropy with making her “less egocentric” and helping her understand that she is “a piece of a much greater whole.”


Visit Laura and John Arnold's profile »

Philanthropy has helped David Rubenstein move past “tunnel vision” and to a richer life

David Rubenstein, Carlyle Group
It would be easy for Rubenstein to focus only on building his company. But philanthropy has helped him get past that in a big way, exposing him to new interests and talented people he would not have met otherwise.


Visit David Rubenstein's profile »

Inspirational experience: Geoff Boisi appreciates how philanthropy has exposed him to “incredible human beings” from all walks of life

Geoff Boisi, MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership; Roundtable Investment Partners
Geoff Boisi is thankful for the incredible leaders who over the years have shared their talents with him and his family, enriching their lives “enormously.”


Visit Geoff Boisi's profile »

Bernie Marcus says “philanthropy feeds my engine and keeps me going”

Bernie Marcus, The Marcus Foundation; The Home Depot
“I’m 83 years old. I’m happy,” says Bernie Marcus. One of the principal reasons is that “philanthropy has kept me agitated.” Marcus adds, “I feel as though I’ve made an impact... so as long as we can keep doing, I’m going to keep doing [philanthropy].”


Visit Bernie Marcus's profile »

Creative Commons License logo
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license are available in our Terms and Conditions.