Federico Garza-Bueron Discusses Philanthropist’s Decision to Go Broke

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Unlike many big name philanthropists, Charles F. Feeney has kept himself under the radar. Feeney’s goodwill has caught the attention of and inspired fellow philanthropists like Federico Garza-Bueron.

Charles F. Feeney is an 81 year old billionaire with a heart set on giving – so much so that he wants to go broke in the process. A recent article in The New York Times discusses Feeney’s philanthropy work and how he plans to give until his last check bounces. Finance professional and philanthropist Federico Garza-Bueron explains how influential Feeney’s money has been to charities worldwide.

According to the article, in 1982, Feeney created a group of private foundations called Atlantic Philanthropies. The company was run anonymously for 15 years by Feeney and was one of the largest grant sources in the United States, Ireland, South Africa and Vietnam. Feeney, who seems to have no emotional attachment to his money, plans to keep Atlantic Philanthropies open until long after he dies. He predicts the company will run out of money sometime around 2020.

Federico Garza-Bueron, a New York financial profession and noted philanthropist, says this type of voluntary closing isn’t uncommon. According to the article The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has a plan to shut its doors 50 years after its founders die. According to Steven Lawrence, director of research for the Foundation Center, Atlantic Philanthropies will be the largest organization to have ever voluntarily shut itself down.

Federico Garza-Bueron says that there is little doubt that Feeney’s philanthropy work will live on for decades to come. According to the article, Feeney, “invested about $7.5 billion in direct medical care, immigration reform, education, criminal justice advocacy and peace-building initiatives. He was an invisible hand at the end of armed conflicts in South Africa and in Northern Ireland, providing funds to buttress constitutional politics over paramilitary action. He has supported marriage-equality campaigns, death penalty opponents and contributed $25 million to push healthcare reform.”

Feeney has remained anonymous until recently. According to the article, “No building anywhere bears Mr. Feeney’s name.” Feeney became more open about his philanthropy work in a hope that it may inspire other wealthy people to give.

“Most of the great philanthropists enjoy the public glory that their elaborate donations bring,” comments Federico Garza-Bueron. “They have buildings and statues with their names carved into them. This man donated billions of dollars and expected no praise in return.” Federico Garza-Bueron says Feeney has inspired him. “The man was so set on giving while keeping his privacy that he set up philanthropies in Bermuda so that he wouldn’t have to take the tax deductions for his donations,” commented Garza-Bueron. “Now that is inspiring.”


Federico Garza-Bueron is a New York financial professional and a long time philanthropist. He helps struggling immigrants get back their professional careers through the Upwardly Mobile project and is the event chairperson for the Columbia Business School Private Equity Committee. Besides donating his fortunes, he guides entrepreneurial ventures, restructures business and manages accounts for many wealthy clients. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from Boston College, a Master’s degree from Universidad Regiomontana in Monterrey, and an MBA from Columbia University. Currently, Federico Garza-Bueron serves as Event Co-Chair for the Private Equity Committee of Columbia Business School, as well as serving as a Board Member for the non-profit relief agency Friends In Deed.

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Michael McGarety
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