Chuck Feeny the billionaire who gave it all away!

Updated: May 29, 2021

Who is Chuck Feeney? Well not many people might recognize this name. Charles Francis Feeney, born on April 23, 1931 in an Irish-American family was the owner of one of the largest private foundations of the world. He preferred to live an anonymous life, donating his wealth anonymously. Chuck Feeney managed to live the life of a secret benefactor for many years until there was a business dispute and his identity was revealed.


He was a generous man he was the generous billionaire who gave away all his money. Yup.....He gave away everything he owned. He had no property, lived in a rented apartment with his wife Helga, had no car, traveled in a bus, lived a frugal life but donated over eight billion dollars. He was never interested in politics. He was a brilliant entrepreneur, who became a billionaire through the company he co-founded called duty-free shoppers. But did he keep his billions.....No....He gave it all away.


Not many people have heard of Chuck Feeney. we have probably heard of more active local community members, movie stars who are Oh! I don't know, so many things! active in so many places, charitable organizations, travelling to the other end of the world to help people...helpful in so many ways. Chuck Feeney's life was a quest to do good things; but he did things anonymously; that's what made the difference and that's why most of us never really heard of him. He earned wealth to give it all away; that was his intention in the first place. He was a businessman who did not want to keep his earnings. He was actually a philanthropist. He had no intention of gaining popularity.


I am in no way condemning those who try to gain popularity while doing their charitable work...Oh no..no..no....giving is always a very kind act, no matter how small. That moral sense to give rather than take is a blessed act indeed. But Chuck Feeney was modest beyond words. Of course there are many great philanthropists like Andrew Carnegie, Maya Angelou, Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Warren Buffet, Michael Bloomberg who have set great examples with their good deeds. They all tried to change the world by donating out of love, not out of pity they reached out when a person needed help, sometimes kind words make a person seem so lovely; they did not shy away from helping others instead they made them realize that they would never walk alone and they tried to inspire many others. Chuck Feeny inspired some of these philanthropists by his selflessness. Chuck Feeney was modest, humble, did great things for people but quietly and loved what he did


He did not want to be popular about his contributions to the society. He never even wore a expensive suit. He actually wore a cardigan which had a hole in it. He preferred to do something much more worth while with the money he had than to either buy or get his cardigan fixed. How selfless is that? It seems he has a watch that costs 15$!!!! Earning for others and not blowing his trumpet about it. A very respectful man indeed. He flew economy class, ordered the cheapest of wines and stayed in small restaurants; all to save money and give it away. He preferred to stay anonymous about his work, his donations, didn't have any ambitions of being a politician, He wasn't a member of any club, or advertised about his giving nature and how much he was doing for the community and how he just selflessly just threw himself in between it all to "save the world". His institution "The Atlantic Philanthropies Foundation" gave away donations to various sources without revealing any names. Chuck Feeney infact transferred his stakes in DFS to the foundation.


Chuck Feeney was not vain, he was not much for fanfare or personal appreciation or didn't look for flattery of any kind. He was devoted in his work to help people and created a foundation known as the Atlantic Philanthropies. Whatever business had to be done was managed quietly not the usual 100$ dinners. He never saw himself as a dynamic leader he just wanted to do the right thing without "blowing his horn". He once said his inspiration was his mother, who was a nurse, who had a very giving nature and who always helped others.


Chuck Feeney helped in high-level research and supported peace and countless other community causes all while remaining anonymous. On March 3rd, 2003, Feeney signed off on a decision to spend everything in his lifetime and he called it "Giving while Living".


Instead of making investment's on himself he would sit unnoticed making sure his foundation was being well treated. He made major investments to the University of Limerick, Cornell University, "Brain Health Institute" at Trinity College in Dublin and to the University Of California, San Francisco.


Simple act of kindness, few simple kind words can be so powerful. Charles Feeney had no delusion of greatness. He had a love for humanity and he loved to help. He was just reaching out to those that needed help. He is such an inspiration. We need more people like him around us especially when times times are tough and we need to fight back. How many can dare to be the first to extend a hand to someone in need? how many can dare to be the best that you can, and try to make a person smile? Without just sharing their happy moments, can you make a person feel great when he or she is in a rut? Can you pull him out of it, without judging or feeling great?


Some people are just so inspiring, so helpful, so kind, so filled with love they are blessings, send to put our heart and soul at ease. Charles Feeney is one of them. If they inspire you then the only way to thank them is to feel blessed and pay it forward.


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