Chuck Feeney

Chuck Feeney Photo

Chuck Feeney is an Irish-American philanthropist and entrepreneur. Founder of Atlantic Philanthropies, one of the largest humanitarian organizations, Feeney made his money from Duty Free Shoppers Group and then started giving it away to charity.

Feeney was born on 23rd April 1931 in New Jersey during the Great Depression. After serving in the U.S army as a radio operator in the Korean War, he started his career by selling liquor to tourists on duty free rates at the Mediterranean ports. Taking advantage of the GI Bill scholarship Feeney attended the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration and became the first person in his family to graduate. He started many new business ventures that were a success. His excellent instincts and the courage to take risks helped him in his feats. He was inclined towards the under privileged and always wanted to do something for those who were struggling.

Feeney founded Atlantic Philanthropies in 1982. The organization operated anonymously for more than 15 years. It has donated over 6.1 billion dollars to health, education, science and other social causes. It is one of the biggest charity givers in every country it operates in, namely Bermuda, Australia, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Vietnam and the United States. Feeney, who has worked closely with Atlantic, has already given away 99 percent of his wealth with almost 2 billion left to give away. As a signatory for the Giving Pledge, he was the inspiration for Warren Buffett and Bill Gates and several other billionaires who pledged to donate all their wealth.

Chuck Feeney had kept his endeavors a secret for a very long time. The anonymous donor has decided to spend the remainder of his life earnings till 2020. His unassuming lifestyle is a mystery to many people but the truth is that Feeney believes in giving. Coming from a modest, hardworking and God fearing family, the idea of accumulating wealth made him very uncomfortable. The reasons for his donations were personal and the simple fact that his life was not driven by money. He leads a very simple and non-luxurious life and he induced the same modesty and humbleness in his children. In 1984 he gave almost 39 percent of his wealth estimated to be around 800 million dollars, to the Atlantic Foundation and Atlantic Trust. He also gave generous gifts to his alma mater Cornell University. He has done massive work such as strengthening the health care infrastructure in Vietnam, founding the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions and the Founding Chairman Programme.

With no branded luxuries, Feeney has no car, no home and travels Coach Class. He prefers staying under the radar and grants interviews very rarely. For him there is no better way of living. He was recognized for his immense philanthropic efforts and tremendous contributions to the fields of healthcare, education and science in 2012 with honorary doctorate of Law, the Presidential Distinguished Service Award for Irish Abroad and the UCSF Award. In 2011 Chuck Feeney was also inducted in the Irish-American Hall of Fame.