The Impact of Turner's Philanthropy

6:00 AM PST 02/28/2012 by Alex Ben Block
Mario Tama/Getty Images

At the decade mark of its existence, the largest private donation in world history has gotten a lot smarter.

In 1997, a year after turner broadcasting was acquired by time Warner, whose stock was flying high, Ted Turner announced he would donate $1 billion to United Nations programs over a decade. The donation seems to have been put to good use: According to the foundation's 2010 tax filing, it raised $124 million from Turner and other sources, gave grants of $72.5 million and still had assets of $180 million.

1998: The first of Turner's annual installments, in cash, goes to create the nonprofit United Nations Foundation. The foundation makes grants to boost the image of the U.N. in the U.S. and support initiatives in health, energy and human rights.

2001: Time Warner is acquired by AOL, and its stock price plunges, costing Turner almost $8 billion. Questions are raised about whether he can fulfill his U.N. commitment. While the size of the annual payments varies, they never stop.

2007: The foundation was to "sunset" around 2008, but it takes on a new mission: to leverage Turner's money into even more resources by bringing in partners (individual donors and corporations) to mount campaigns to face the world's most pressing challenges. These include reducing child mortality; empowering women; innovating technology; addressing energy and such health issues as measles, polio and malaria; and helping to keep young women in sub-Saharan Africa in school and safe from rape. Turner remains chairman and often serves as the face of the group.

2010: His annual payments total $760 million. Each dollar is leveraged to raise an additional $1.30 through partnerships like the Million Moms Challenge, an effort with ABC News, Johnson & Johnson and others to improve nutrition for mothers and babies in Africa.

2014: The year by which Turner will have donated the remainder of the $1 billion. "What Ted founded," says U.N. Foundation CEO Kathy Calvin, "doesn't fall neatly into any one definition of a 'charity' because it's something more than that. It's a place where people can invest in solving the really big problems."

 
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