Amount donated: Over $400m
Philanthropic Causes: Environment, education, health and the arts.
Region of philanthropic focus: United States
Ranking: 16th on Forbes’ America’s 50 Top Givers list in 2014
Net Worth: $15.6bn according to Forbes as of March 2016
Source of wealth: Hedge funds
In recent years, Ray Dalio’s prolific giving has seen him rise through the ranks to become one of the United State’s biggest philanthropists. Through the Dalio Foundation, the hedge fund billionaire has donated millions each year to causes as diverse as education, health and the environment.
Born to Italian-American parents in New York, Dalio began his investment career at the tender age of 12 when he bought $300-worth of shares in Northeast Airlines, after earning the cash working as a golf caddie. He later tripled his shares when the airline merged with another company. Looking back on his first brush with the stock market, the self-made billionaire later remarked: “I was lucky, though I didn’t see it that way then. I figured that this game was easy.”
After studying at Long Island University and Harvard Business School, Dalio began work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, investing in commodities. This path eventually saw Dalio become the Director of Commodities at Dominick & Dominick LLC, before becoming a futures trader and broker at Shearson Hayden Stone in 1974. A year later, Dalio founded Bridgewater Associates. which became the largest hedge fund in the world in 2012. As of 2015, the firm was managing an astonishing $160bn.
Now 66-years-old, the father-of-four resides in Greenwich, Connecticut, with his wife Barbara, and in 2014 the businessman was listed as the wealthiest person in the state, with an estimated net worth of $14.3bn.
Alongside his growing wealth, Dalio, who was ranked at number 48 on Forbes 2016 list of The World’s Billionaires, has amped up his charitable endeavours significantly each year. In April 2011, Dalio joined the Giving Pledge, vowing to donate more than half of his fortune to charitable causes within his lifetime.
“When we earned more money, we experienced the diminishing benefits of having more money,” Dalio and his wife wrote in their pledge letter. “We learned that beyond having enough money to help secure the basics – quality relationships, health, stimulating ideas,
etc. – having more money, while nice, wasn’t all that important.” They finished: “We found taking our excesses and providing it to others who have extreme shortages has been both a good investment and a great satisfaction.”
Since founding the Dalio Foundation in 2003, the businessman has steadily increased the size of his grants and in 2014 donated a staggering $119m to a range of causes.
High on Dalio’s list of priorities is education, and he has gifted large sums of money to schools across Connecticut. He has also made donations to a number of higher education establishments including: Harvard, NYU’s Tisch School, Yale, Stanford, and the University of Pennsylvania.
Another of Dalio’s main philanthropic passions is health. While he has made donations to cancer charities and children’s hospitals over the years, Dalio’s central focus is on mental health and wellbeing. Having previously credited transcendental meditation for his success, Dalio has poured millions into meditation charities, and has also funded research and treatment for mental illness, particularly bipolar disorder.
Alongside community development and the arts, Dalio also has a keen interest in the environment. He has a particular passion for the world’s oceans, believing they are ‘the largest, most important and least well-supported natural resource’. Dalio is expected to expand further into this area in coming years, having recently established the Dalio Explore Fund to bankroll a number of environmental and scientific research projects, many of which are focused on marine conservation.
It appears Dalio may have passed on his charitable nature to his children, with his son Matt establishing the charity China Care in 2000, to support and empower orphans throughout China. Dalio is an active supporter of the organisation, and has made a number of donations to his son’s organisation through the Dalio Foundation.
According to Forbes, Dalio earned $500m through Bridgewater Associates in 2015 and, with the family’s commitment to the Giving Pledge, there’s no doubt his Foundation will continue to diversify and expand. “The Dalios’ rate of giving has been increasing at a rate that is consistent with their rate of learning and their building up of their team,” the Dalio Foundation said in a recent statement, adding: “They expect this to continue.”
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