Beginning philanthropy early has allowed the Arnolds to see the effects their giving is having earlier in life, they say, and they are committed to giving while living. In 2008 they signed The Giving Pledge, and that same year they established the Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF). Grantees include Teach for America, KIPP, YES Prep Public Schools, and the Pew Charitable Trusts. In addition, they are currently in Phase II of the Giving Library, an online video library the LJAF is funding that is designed to help philanthropists more efficiently survey the landscape of giving opportunities and connect with nonprofits through engaging video interviews. They've invited nonprofits to apply (by Feb. 11) for one of the 600 spots that are open.
RelatedThe Arnolds take a portfolio approach to their philanthropy. Some of their philanthropic dollars go to large, established organizations. The Arnolds consider these mature organizations the “low-risk” portion of their philanthropy. But the Arnolds embrace riskier ventures as well. In fact, they say that for a large portion of their portfolio they try to be “more aggressive than the market” and focus on smaller organizations. "If you invest dollars with the large, established, mature organization, you’re pretty sure what you’re going to get,” says John. “If you invest it with a new organization, you might get nothing, but it might get a much bigger return.” This risk tolerance is key, he says, and as he and Laura are becoming more knowledgeable in their philanthropy, “more of our money’s going to the riskier things, which I think in the market of philanthropy tends to be underfunded.”
Video: The Arnolds are open to failure in their philanthropy
Learn more about Laura and John Arnold and find a complete archive of their videos for Conversations with Remarkable Givers.