True Philanthropist, George Soros, Banned by the Russian Government

All too often, in the media, we hear news about wealthy people that do nothing but build their own personal and business wealth. We might hear that a wealthy person or family participates in philanthropy, but we understand it typically isn’t much more than donating money here and there and attending black tie charitable events because they feel they should. We rarely get the feeling that the philanthropists feel any strong connections to the causes they support.

Many people also feel that if they were to suddenly strike it rich by hitting the lottery, or by some other means, that they would support the causes they feel the most passionate about; and donate significant funding to them. Many people also wonder why most wealthy people do not.

However, every once in a while, we learn that someone is living up to the standards many would like other wealthy people to adhere to.

In recent news, George Soros lifetime philanthropist and hedge fund billionaire has just received restrictions from the Russian government; limiting his charitable activities within the country. Now 85 years old, Soros has dedicated his lifetime of philanthropy to forwarding causes that emphasize freedom of expression, human rights, better access to education in 70 countries and better access to public health around the world.

Some of his most famous endeavors include:

-Providing black South African students who were living under apartheid with scholarships;
-Providing people living under communism with Xerox machines to copy banned western texts; and
-Founding the Central European University to promote critical thinking

Soros according to founded the charities in question, (the Open Society Foundations and the Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation), in 1979 when his hedge fund had reached an asset level of $100 million and his personal wealth had reached an asset level of $25 million. Since the charitable organizations are both pro-democracy charities, the government has banned their activities; stating that the activities, “pose a threat to the state and the Russian constitution.” The charities were also labeled as, “undesirable,” and placed on the Stop List.

Soros who feels very strongly that his charities operate to help the Russian people, who deeply desire the freedoms that a democratic society would provide; has encouraged western countries to send money, ($50 million to be exact), as a “bulwark,” to counter Russia’s aggressive anti-democracy practices.

Soros has stated that even though his organizations worked to forward democracy, he operated them with respect to the Russian government’s policies and is shocked that the government has placed a ban on their activities.

-Their activities were historically welcomed by both citizens and officials;
-The charities strengthened the rule of law in Russia; and
-The charities encouraged equal rights for all people

He also feels that despite the ban, the Russian peoples’ desire for freedom and a more democratic state are going to overtake the government’s actions to suppress the charities’ activities; because the Russian people themselves feel that democracy will give them a better future.

Bruce Levenson: Facilitating Philanthropic Leadership

There isn’t enough philanthropy in the world, and according to a recent PR Newswire article, that’s a problem Forbes billionaire Bruce Levenson aims to fix. Several years ago, Bruce and Karen Levenson provided donations which became seed money to The Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership at the University of Maryland. They’ve made at least one subsequent donation, and The Center has continuously expanded since their initial input. In fact, The Center has currently grown large enough to add a dormitory, and they’ve become renown enough to be considered among the best philanthropic leadership programs available today by a number of agencies in the nation’s capital. It makes sense such organizations should hold The Center in high esteem. Every semester, between the available classes at The Center some ten thousand dollars are raised and distributed to varying nonprofit agencies. This means every year approximately twenty thousand dollars are raised. Such a thing is a perpetual gift to nonprofit agencies. Not only that, The Center has sent students as far as India in philanthropic pursuits. Maybe this is the reason Karen and Bruce are so proud of their work. Karen has called their donations to The Center the “most profound” impact they’ve had, philanthropically speaking. Bruce has said that the center’s purpose isn’t just philanthropy, but educating “every student attending the University of Maryland” in profound philanthropic principle.