ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
“Private Citizen Bloomberg on Philanthropy.” By Paul Sullivan. New York Times. April 26, 2014. Michael R. Bloomberg has given billions of dollars to charity and plans to give tens of billions more. His foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, has been ranked among the most innovative organizations in the country. And he has been willing to finance programs that could be controversial if they failed — like teaching high school graduates in Tanzania to perform appendectomies and cesarean sections. Yet in his first wide-ranging interview on philanthropy since ending his third term as New York City’s mayor, Mr. Bloomberg said he and his fellow billionaire philanthropists had to be more realistic about what they could do to tackle large problems around the world. “All the billionaires added together are, as they’d say, bupkis compared to the amount of money that government spends,” he said. “It’s trillions of dollars. Private philanthropy can’t do that.” Mr. Bloomberg, 72, said philanthropists should focus on areas where they can test an idea and then, armed with results, get government money to turn the idea into a program. The belief that better government was crucial to improving people’s lives was a hallmark of Mr. Bloomberg’s tenure as mayor — so much so that his critics often accused him of running a “nanny state. . . .” When it comes to giving away his fortune, estimated at $32 billion by Forbes, Mr. Bloomberg said he wanted to focus on things that other people weren’t doing and to test new ideas. . . . Mr. Bloomberg has given away $3.3 billion so far, according to his foundation. His giving has been increasing each year, from $279 million in 2010 to $452 million last year. Like some other philanthropists in recent years, he has said he plans to give away all of his personal assets in his lifetime. According to the Foundation Center, Bloomberg Philanthropies is 12th on its list of the largest grant-making foundations in the United States, putting it behind the Gates, Ford and MacArthur foundations but ahead of those established by the Rockefellers and Carnegies. . . . Bloomberg Philanthropies focuses on five areas: government innovation, environment, public health, education and the arts.