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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Westport Hedge Fund Exec Campaigns for Charity

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The head of a Westport-based hedge fund wants people to donate to charity instead of buying Christmas Image
Ray Dalio: Give to charity. File photo

Ray Dalio, founder and chairman of Bridgewater Associates on Glendinning Place off Weston Road, has launched a public campaign to urge Americans to give to charity instead of feeding into the traditional Christmas shopping frenzy.

Dalio, a Greenwich resident whose net worth is listed at $4 billion by Forbes, is running full-page advertisements in six major newspapers nationwide suggesting that shopping would be easier and more meaningful if people made charitable contributions.

His ads urge people to redefine Christmas by making charitable donations that would allow them to “spend more quality time with family and friends rather than in stores shopping for them.”

Posted 12/04/07 at 12:07 PM


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I ran this by my kids and my 4 year old said, “Daddy when you’re worth 4 Billion and I already have everything I need. Then you can donate more to charity, but until then, I want my Leapster.” He then muttered something about, “don’t get cheap on me now”.

Although, I do agree with the sentiment.

Posted by John Raho on December 04, 2007 at 04:17 PM | #

yes and there are others living under bridges ready to jump from them because they have no food….

bye the way, what is a leapster and do i need one??

ron malone

Posted by ron malone on December 05, 2007 at 12:39 AM | #

What a fantastic gesture by Mr. Dalio, he deserves to be commended.  Billionaire or not, it’s the thought that counts and my hope is it directs many (not all) of this and future generations that it’s not all about them.  Maybe some of you remember (as children) that whether big or small, whatever was left under the tree or given to us during the holidays, we were grateful. 

Thank you, Mr. Malone, for your great idea.  Charity donations can be made in many forms including giving those that do live under bridges a care package of food and warm clothing.  I’ll be sure to take my young nephews to help me shop for the less fortunate. 

Thank you once again, Mr. Dalio, you have inspired a wonderful tradition.

Posted by AUDREY HERTZEL on December 05, 2007 at 03:19 AM | #

Mr. Dalio has seemingly had a change of heart.  In March, I wrote to Mr. Dalio inviting him to be one of the sponsors of First Night Westport/Weston (our community-wide, alcohol-free celebration of New Year’s Eve through the Arts).  Receiving no written response back, I called his office and called his office and called his office only to be finally told that Mr. Dalio doesn’t give to local organizations.  And as soon as she said that, I realized that I had never seen the name Bridgewater attached to any of the extarordinary charitable organizations in town (of which there are many).  And I mentioned to a personal friend who happens to be in the business world that I was trying to reach Ray Dalio to be a First Night sponsor.  Her response was, “Forget about it, he never gives to anything.”  But not being one to give up easily, I even approached Mr. Dalio about being a First Night Button Give-Away Sponsor for kids and families in need.  Our Button Give-Away donations start at $15 to sponsor one button for one kid.  So this is an open invitation for Mr. Dalio to sponsor one underprivileged kid to go to First Night.  It will only cost you $15, Mr. Dalio. The return on your investment is tremendous.  You can call me at 341-1041 or email me at [email protected]  Giving to those less fortunate than us is indeed a wonderful thing to do.

Posted by Rozanne Gates on December 05, 2007 at 12:32 PM | #

Dear Rozanne;

Your posting suggests that I am not charitable and therefore implies that the Dalio Family’s ad campaign (which we tried to keep anonymous) to encourage people to consider making donations to people’s favorite charities as Christmas gifts is insincere. I wouldn’t reply to your comments if they simply conveyed incorrect information about me because I’d much rather stay as private as possible. However, because I feel deeply that it would be great if people considered giving donations to people’s favorite charities as holiday gifts and fear that your misinformation could undermine the credibility of this effort, I thought I should correct some factual errors and explain why I didn’t donate to your and your friend’s charities.

Regarding, your comment “Forget about it, he never gives to anything,” last year the Dalio Family Foundation and I donated approximately $5 million to 400 charities. Bridgewater and it’s employees also made a large number of charitable donations, though it is not my place to disclose their private information to you, so I won’t be more specific.

Regarding my not considering your charity and your friend’s charity, you can’t possibly imagine how many requests my family and I get to donate to wonderful charities and how important it has been to create a process that focuses our limited time and resources efficiently. As part of the process, we have decided not to consider donation requests from people we don’t know. We only make donations to the people and charities that we have chosen, or to the worthy causes that are important to people we are close to. We find that, even when we limit the charities that we donate to in this way, we end up with hundreds and feel that our impact is too diluted.

I am sincerely sorry that we could not consider your and your friends undoubtedly worthy request, for this reason. I have learned that there is so much true need and such limited resources, which is why I hope that more people will divert some of the money that goes to wasteful things toward helping others. Of course, that doesn’t help you now. I’m sorry for that. Perhaps by asking people close to you and on this site to consider donating to your charity as a Christmas gift, you can raise money for it and add to the Christmas spirit. Anyway, give it some thought.

Happy holidays and keep up your good work.
Ray Dalio

Posted by Ray Dalio on December 05, 2007 at 09:15 PM | #

Dear Mr. Dalio, et al:

Bill Mitchell and I happened to have spoken on Monday about another prominent and charitable individual in Westport. At one point, Mr. Mitchell remarked that whether one contributes $10 or $10 million, it is what a person can do for others, regardless of financial position or status. It is the gesture or thought. The phrase “pay it forward” came to my mind.

Contributing what you and your family and company can does have profound impact on those groups, just the same as if I give lesser amounts to my own personal choice of charities (I do like the ones with minimal overhead costs to maximize what goes to the recipients). Pay it forward.

Hopefully, many readers and posters of this website will do the same (and already do!)

Happy Holidays to all.


Posted by Matt Murray on December 05, 2007 at 09:52 PM | #

I strongly disagree with Rozanne Gates. First Night is an important event to the local residents of Westport, but let’s be clear, it is not a charity. First Night does not feed any starving children or house the homeless. First Night is an event that entertains highly privileged children. Apparently Rozanne is either removed from the reality of much of the world, or insensitive to the suffering that people outside of Westport may experience.

Let’s work to wipe out hunger and suffering in the rest of the world before investing time enhancing the quality of life for those that already live better than 99% or the world.

There is a difference between a non-profit and a charity. I agree with Ray, there are too many causes that are more important in the world than fireworks for the wealthy.

Posted by David Marlon on December 06, 2007 at 04:12 PM | #

In the past two years, First Night Westport/Weston has donated 1,228 First Night buttons through its Button Give Away Program to families and kids in need.  The social service agencies distributing these buttons are the Human Services Department in Westport and Weston, the Human Services Council in Norwalk, Project Return, the Carver Community Center in Norwalk, CLASP Homes, the Westport-Weston Family Y, and the Norwalk Family Y.  This program started when a wonderful lady who works in the Department of Human Services in Westport asked me if it would be possible to have some First Night buttons donated for the Westport families in need.  I asked ignorantly, “Are there families in need in Westport?” “Yes”, she said, “many.”  There are a lot of people who are indeed surprised to hear that Westport has families that are underprivileged.  But First Night gets support from businesses and individuals who sponsor these buttons so that these families can attend this marvelous community-wide, alcohol-free celebration of New Year’s Eve through the Arts.  Parents are grateful that First Night is a safe haven for their teens.  They are happy that kids have somewhere to go on New Year’s Eve where alcohol is not served.  Our senior citizens have somewhere to go where they can be with their friends and not have to stay home alone.  In the 14 years that First Night has been in existence, we have had no accidents, no incidents, and no arrests.  We contribute to the health and safety of our community and we are proud of that record.  In fact most of the people who come to Westport for First Night come from out of town.  They have a chance to see what a wonderful town we have.  They enjoy themselves and come back during other parts of the year to shop and go to restaurants.  Health is a matter of participation and First Night offers an oppurtunity for over 200 people to volunteer.  We have volunteers of all ages.  We provide a healthy environment on a night that is traditionally spent getting drunk.  So I would say, Mr. Marlon, that First Night contributes greatly to the health of our community, to the health and well-being of all the attendees, and the health and well-being of our town in general.  Westport is the most generous town I have ever experienced and I am proud to live here.  First Night is grateful for all the support from its sponsors and Button Give Away donors.  First Night is a tradition we do not want to lose.  First Night is not a “cause”.  First Night is a chance for adults to model healthy behavior to the generations coming behind us.  First Night is a chance for Westport to show what kind of community we have.  First Night is a chance for us to share our town with folks from other areas. We all do our part in making this community the best it can be.  We all contribute as much as we can.

Posted by Rozanne Gates on December 06, 2007 at 06:39 PM | #

Rozanne/Max: My criticism is not against First Night, it’s a great event that my kids love. You refer to First Night as a tradition not a cause, and that is exactly my point. Don’t get upset if some people, including myself, choose to support “causes” for those in need in Westport and elsewhere. I am offended to the insensitivity to real suffering versus lack of entertainment options. If you feel those in true need are better served by having free entry to a celebration in an upscale town, you may need to revisit your definition of need. As fun as First Night may be, I don’t feel nine hours of entertainment alleviates the suffering of those in need for the rest of the year.

Posted by David Marlon on December 06, 2007 at 09:55 PM | #

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