Stanley Druckenmiller loves a big bet. Both as a money manager and as a philanthropist, Druckenmiller has built his career on taking big risks—and very often, reaping big rewards. As founder of Pittsburgh-based Duquesne Capital Management, Druckenmiller posted an average annual return of 30 percent without a single money-losing year.
While managing Duquesne, he also enjoyed a 10-year stint as manager of the Soros Funds. There, Druckenmiller developed his interest in philanthropy. George Soros, who had hired Druckenmiller to manage his money so he could focus on his own giving, matched employee giving 4:1. “I was highly, highly influenced by that,” recalls Druckenmiller, who also credits his wife, Fiona, and Paul Tudor Jones with motivating his philanthropy.
In 2009, The Chronicle of Philanthropy recognized the Druckenmillers as the most charitable couple in America. Most of their giving has been in education, poverty, environment, and health—and most of it has taken the form of big bets, including a $100 million grant for a neurological institute at New York University’s Langone Medical Center.
To reinforce his bets, Druckenmiller invests in leaders he trusts. Take for example Geoffrey Canada, who managed to interest Druckenmiller in his vision for the Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ) at a time when Druckenmiller wasn’t sure if it would be possible to raise the money to fund the plan. Today, HCZ is one of the most well-known initiatives combating poverty in the US. But in that decision-making moment, it was not the idea so much as Canada who moved Druckenmiller to get behind the effort. For Druckenmiller, there are many times when he thinks he may get a “zero out of [his] investment,” but if he can win on just a few big bets and enrich the lives of lots of people, that’s “sheer joy.”More Remarkable Givers
- $100 million one-time grant: Stanley Druckenmiller explains why he was comfortable with such an investment
- Active Chairman: Stanley Druckenmiller finds pleasure in his leadership role with the Harlem Children's Zone
- A hard project: Stanley Druckenmiller talks about an almost failure
- A vehicle for structured giving: Stanley Druckenmiller establishes his foundation to handle a large sum
- Bet big: Stanley Druckenmiller’s advice for new philanthropists
- Betting on a leader: How Stanley Druckenmiller responded to Geoffrey Canada’s big ask
- “Big rewards” require big risks: Why Stanley Druckenmiller is willing to “lose” money on some grants
- Building a community: Stanley Druckenmiller on how Harlem Children’s Zone began its transformation of Harlem
- Don’t diversify: Stanley Druckenmiller favors homing in on a few big ideas
- Focusing money and time: Why Stanley Druckenmiller makes a few large investments and joins a few boards
- Following one’s ideas in philanthropy: How Stanley and Fiona Druckenmiller decide where to invest
- Friends with money: Stanley Druckenmiller likes collaborating with other philanthropists
- Great leader: Stanley Druckenmiller was immediately impressed by Geoffrey Canada
- “If you could die with zero…”: Stanley Druckenmiller contemplates the future of his philanthropy
- “Invest and then investigate”: Stanley Druckenmiller relies on instinct to get things started
- Lesson from Soros: For a young Stanley Druckenmiller, giving became infectious
- On giving to universities: Stanley Druckenmiller favors the leverage at small institutions
- Sheer joy: What philanthropy has brought to Stanley Druckenmiller’s life
- Stanley Druckenmiller is grateful for government support—but would like to see it change
- Two powerful philanthropic influences: Why Stanley Druckenmiller chose to fight poverty during his lifetime