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Giving while you’re living

Source | LinkedIn : By Roger Hamilton

Would you give all your money away? If so, where? This is the extraordinary story of Chuck Feeney, who finally achieves his 34 year mission of going from $8 billion to broke this year.

2016 is the year his Foundation gives the last of his money away. In the process, he has become the hero of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, who said “Chuck has set an example not only for people of my age but also younger generations. He will be an example 100 years from now or 200 years from now.”

“He is my hero. He is Bill Gates’ hero. He should be everybody’s hero.”

Here’s Chuck’s 3 steps to making, and giving away $8 billion.


Chuck was born into a poor, Irish family during the Great Depression in 1931. He shovelled snow and sold Christmas cards door-to-door as a kid to make money to take home. While young and in poverty, he read Andrew Carnegie’s classic essay, “The Gospel of Wealth”.

Andrew Carnegie’s essay was a revolutionary call for those who create wealth to live modestly, and to give all their excess wealth to support others while still alive: “Giving while living.”

The words touched him so deeply, Chuck decided at that moment that he would dedicate his life to create wealth to give away, saying “I want the last cheque I write to bounce.”


As a teenager, Chuck joined the US airforce during the Korean War. He got to see first hand the difficulty servicemen had in getting the products they wanted from home. So he set up a business to import and sell them the goods they wanted. He found a way to sell them without duty, by setting up stores on the air-side of airports and his company, Duty Free Shoppers took off.

Ever bought anything from a DFS shop at an airport? That’s Chuck’s company.

But from the early days, Chuck had already set up his company so that all the proceeds went into his foundation, the Atlantic Philanthropies, so the money the company made could be given away each year. The money has gone into causes around the world in health, education and human rights.

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