Lauding the philanthropic efforts of the largest CEO’s in this country sometimes seems to be the favorite pastime for various media outlets, but is it true giving when the gift will reap the giver some benefit? Alternative reasons for philanthropic giving include; tax write-offs, advertising, and publicity, or as tools to soften the image of individuals and companies, depending on the reason or problem, these are huge benefits. The beneficiaries of this giving concern themselves more with their particular need rather than motives, when viewing through this lens, their lack of concern is certainly justifiable. The philanthropic efforts of the two CEO’s this article will touch on, are neither the largest, or come with the fanfare normally inclusive in charitable giving today.
The lack of fanfare from chief executive officer Karen Buchwald White of Mount Vernon in Knox County, Ohio, is by design. Ms. White’s company, according to the Columbus Dispatch, employs twelve hundred residents in a town of seventeen thousand. In an area negatively impacted by numerous economic downturns, this contribution alone is immeasurable. In 2001, Ms. White took over the compressor manufacturing company her father started in a basement. Ariel manufacturing thrived under her charge and beyond the economic impact her Ariel Corp. presently injects into the surrounding economy, Ariel Foundation donates millions annually to almost every civil project starting in the county. She has this impact and yet she shuns the spotlight. Those who know her say she does not want to be bound by a duty to give, but does so because she is a part of the community.
John Moores met Rebecca Baas in high school and they fell in love. As they were from the Houston area, they would attend the University of Houston together. They had very little money, confining their activities together to the campus and a small reflection pool across from the dorms. They eventually married, became successful in software and later acquired the San Diego Padres. Throughout those same years, their Alma Mater came into considerable decline. The Moores’, in 1990,gifted the University of Houston fifty-one million dollars, a very large personal gift at the time. Although there were some broad designation for the use of the funds, The Moores’ had a single stipulation, renovate the now empty and decaying reflection pond and preserve it for future generations of students readying themselves for their entry into the world. The initial donation started a renaissance campus wide and now, almost a quarter century later, The University of Houston is a Tier One university, having doubled its enrollment, footprint and impact on the surrounding, economically challenged, community.
The motives for giving vary and onlookers will judge, but as long as CEO’s give, for whatever reason, the economic ends will justify the means.