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May 23, 2016

Opinion: Bloomberg's Giving Offers Lessons on Partnership

Michael Bloomberg's philanthropy reflects a willingness to give to organizations that have a local focus but serve a larger purpose, and to partner with others on charitable endeavors, a New York Times financial columnist writes.

Assessing Mr. Bloomberg's giving approach in his Wealth Matters column, Paul Sullivan notes that while the media mogul and ex-New York mayor has set up a fund to support causes of personal significance — for example, he has donated more than $1 billion to his alma matter, the Johns Hopkins University — he has not been afraid to give to projects based on fresh ideas in areas such as clean energy.

Mr. Bloomberg gave $510 million to more than 1,000 organizations last year and his donated more than $4.3 billion in his lifetime. He tells Mr. Sullivan that he has learned what he can and can't do with his giving, and that going it alone in charitable endeavors is not always the best option. For instance, his Bloomberg Philanthropies has given $125 million to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for its efforts to eradicate polio and has helped fund the Sierra Club's drive to shut down coal-fired power plants.

“I’d think being a soloist falls apart,” the 74-year-old philanthropist said. “I think there’s a limit to how much you can do on your own.”