Jeremy Grantham, Jonathan Jacobson, Seth Klarman and Jeffrrey Vinik: “Below the Radar” Philanthropy of Top Investors to Social Causes

The Boston Globe profiles philanthropy by leading investors. Jeremy Grantham’s foundations, including the $377 million Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, reflect a movement toward “making big bets on social change philanthropy,” according to Paul Grogan of the Boston Foundation. This is a shift apparent in Grantham’s own remarks: he noted that giving to traditional recipients of philanthropic dollars (such as arts and medical institutions) is “better than nothing. But it isn’t as good as medical research, or more to the point even, critical environmental donations.” Seth Klarman of the Baupost Group is another example of civic and community giving. The Globe says he “brings his penchant for contrarian investing to his charitible efforts: put money into areas few others are betting on and see potentially big gains, rather than follow the crowd.”

Much of the philanthropy of financial services leaders is “below the radar,” according to Grogan.  Jonathan Jacobson, for example, is described by the Globe as “the most publicity shy” of the profiled philanthropers. His Jacobson Family Foundation Trust controlled $384 million as of 2012 and focuses on education, child welfare and Jewish causes.

These investment leaders also represent a trend of focusing more on philanthropy than their own wealth once a certain level of success is attained, according to Paul G. Schervish of Boston College. A prime example may be Jeffrey Vinik who has been directing half his income to his foundation annually for the last decade. “As you get older, you hopefully have more time to thi