No. 9: Atlantic Philanthropies

By the time Atlantic Philanthropies makes its last grant in 2016 it will have contributed £4.8bn.


New Jersey-born Chuck Feeney was an entrepreneur from an early age, selling Christmas cards door-todoor and teaming up with a friend to shovel sidewalks during snowstorms. After high school, Chuck enlisted in the US Air Force, serving in Japan during the Korean War. He took advantage of the GI Bill to attend University, becoming the first member of his family to go to college. Upon graduation, Chuck started a business selling goods to American troops stationed in Europe that eventually became Duty Free Shoppers, the world’s largest luxury goods retailer.

In the mid-1980s, Chuck quietly gave most of his wealth to the Atlantic Philanthropies foundation, which he started in 1982.

In his biography, The Billionaire Who Wasn’t, Feeney said, “I had one idea that never changed in my mind – that you should use your wealth to help people.” And the impact of Feeney and the foundation has gone further – his philosophy of “Giving While Living” was also an inspiration behind the Giving Pledge, an initiative created by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates to persuade many of the world’s richest people to give their wealth to philanthropy.

Atlantic Philanthropies has made grants of more than £4bn focusing on promoting education, health, peace, reconciliation and human dignity in Australia, Bermuda, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United States and Vietnam.

Only one month ago, two longtime Atlantic grantees – the University of California, San Francisco and Trinity College Dublin – jointly announced the launch, with Atlantic’s support, of the Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI). The support for GBHI is Atlantic’s final grant in this area and, at £117m, is the largest single non-capital grant in the foundation’s history.

The foundation is now winding down. By the time it makes its last grant in 2016 it will have contributed £4.8bn.