The Journal of Graduate Liberal Studies

Helwig A4

 

Appendix d: Subjects 4 and 5

Subject #4 and Subject #5, a married couple
Subject #4 is a white male, 65-80 years old
Subject #4 was born and his lived his life in central Pennsylvania, a second generation family business executive. 
Subject #5 is a white female, 65-80 years old
Subject #5 moved to the region from New England and married Subject #4 approximately ten years ago. 
As a couple, the subjects have made more than $10 million in gifts.

 

Dan: I know you have been generous to many difference charities. Talk a little bit about your first exposure to caring for others through charitable gifts as a kid.

Subject #4: So in the case of Subject #5, in her vocation that is more of the health care, but specifically nursing, that is a caring profession. To take care of people and you have to be good at it and want to do it…you have to like people and want to take care of them. It’s like our granddaughter…she is unbelievably caring. That’s just the way she is. I can say she got it from her grandmother because she didn’t get it from her parents. And (REDACTED relative), totally opposite from her sister which is interesting … you are talking about two people who are from the same family … her sister wants to be a policeman or a detective or forensic person or something in law enforcement, which is totally different. Now I don’t know, I can’t say is she as caring as (REDACTED), probably not as much.

Subject #5: I just want to kind of give a little history of my own. At the time when I graduated from high school there were only three things for women … being a secretary, a nurse or a teacher. Now we are talking, Dan, back in the sixties. And that was it, there weren’t all these other degrees for women to get into. I came from a relatively poor community. We were blue collar. Mother and father when they both retired they were making $14,000 a year back in 1966 or something. But my father was an electrician and he … we couldn’t give financially but if there was somebody in the church that they were building a new house and they needed the house wired, my father would do this at no cost. (Subject #4: he gave service) He gave services. And my mother did work for a doctor but it was my dad that I remember was doing things for others. But my father was a very difficult man. He was very hard man … he’d been through World War II and was …. There’s a long story there (Subject #4: he was traumatized – he was in combat). He was on the US Ticonderoga that was kamikazeed and he was always just an extremely nervous man. But then we would go as a family, the four of us my brother, my mom and dad to a place called the Colonial Club in, I still remember, it was in Worcester, Massachusetts once a year for like this fancy dinner … that’s all that we could do was once a year. And, there was an organ player – that was part of where my father wanted to get the organ. But, my father was always a very generous tipper. Ok, I don’t know if it’s genetic or if it’s a lot of what you are exposed to. Because with my mother … I helped out … she worked for a doctor in practice and I would go and help her. But I remember a lot more of my father helping out. It was difficult because many times he was taken advantage of. I think we have all been in that position. 

But anyway, to get back to me … there was never a question in my mind of what I wanted to be from as early as I can remember I wanted to be a nurse. And, that’s how my career started. Subject #4, yours was a little bit different. You had a generous dad who got involved with the college early on and actually as being financially philanthropic for me … If anybody needed anything and I was working, even though I really couldn’t afford to do it, I would help them. Whether it was their rent … maybe one of my nurses was having a hard time I would help them in anyway … I would give them extra hours, but even financially at times doing things I really couldn’t afford to do. But it was like my heart just went out to them.

And then it was like marrying Subject #4 and going from this very blue-collared situation into a role where I am marrying a very, very wealthy man was quite a learning curve of what this was all about … what philanthropy was about. And, we’d give a lot and a lot of different organizations almost maybe to a fault … don’t you think.

Subject #4: I think … well you’ve got to realize the other part which makes us different from … I believe … literally strongly believe in the Carnegie quote that says “I want to give you my family as much as you need but not so much that you do nothing”. And so therefore my goal was to allow my children or grandchildren, for that matter, to have opportunities. But in no way to give them enough that they do not have to work. So therefore because of that philosophy, I didn’t want to maintain my family’s wealth because when we die and whatever we have designated and so on, but there should be no residual trust that will go on forever. And to me, let’s do it now and I don’t what anything left over. Now, there is a little bit of a balance to that because who knows if you are going to live to be 110? And who knows with our government and so on … 

There is a case I’ve seen a list of people contributing to charity as a percentage of a family’s wealth …. There are some that give nothing away, even though that family is one of the richest families in the world – they are exactly the opposite of (Bill) Gates. Even though Gates because he is so wealthy he would give it away … it goes from giving 1% to as high as 50% or so. We are more in the area of more 75 to 80%. 

First of all, yes, I was mentored. My father was a generous person period. In a lot of ways my father was a very kind gentle person. But I think that your statement of what causes … I still think it’s your surroundings and part of it … why are some people more generous or kind or … I don’t know. That’s a good question. I think part of it if you’re in an area where you are helping people. If you are going in an area where you are more financially or using money as capital and so on, you are going to use that capital to grow businesses. You are helping people more people to have employment, and doing a great job and things like that. 

So not necessary but because of our philosophy and we have agreed on … we don’t want to give a tremendous amount of money to our children or grandchildren or whatever. Because as far as we are concerned we want to give the opportunity or education or whatever they want to do … I think the greatest waste in the country is the number of people that go to college that never use their skills because they are from the very wealthy and they don’t have to do anything and they don’t. 

Subject #5: I think when Subject #4 and I started to date, his philosophy was to donate mostly to colleges and libraries. I mean people that are helping themselves, because my exposure through nursing. When I was with (REDACTED) hospital, we did a community needs assessment and this was back in ’92 before it was mandated. Like today the hospitals have to do it every so many years. Mandated by the IRS to maintain their 5013C. But, we did it in ’92 and it was my responsibility to get people together to work on the issues that were raised and that was when I went from totally an in hospital philosophy to seeing things that were out there in the community. And, really developing programs when I was there for high risk. Whether it was high risk moms’ who had just delivered … like they were single moms like teenage pregnancy. There was a lot of teenage pregnancy back then. But also mental issues but issues with senior citizens and youth programs and just all kinds of things. So mine was just more helping those that can’t always help themselves. Many times there are things you have to do to help them so they can move forward. So our philosophies are a little bit different. 

Subject #4: My idea is … I wanted my businesses to prosper … the more I earned, the more I could give away, the more I could do. My goal was not to maximize profits and minimize expenses. No it wanted them both to go together. Now there is a way to be competitive and there’s a way to be fair … labor was by far the biggest cost. And, now today health care is the biggest cost. So overall my philosophy was to mentor people in a way …. You are going to get a better and better job and get more and more financially secure. If I’m helping somebody who is helping themselves, they’re working harder. They’re doing more.. I’ve also been more helping people who are trying to help themselves. And to the maximum I can do it. 

Dan: And you saw it as a kind of symbiotic relationship where if they could become better and better trained and be more effective. It not only helped them but it helped you as an employer also.

Subject #4: I think you might of heard my little thing, my triangle … I will do the most to help and motivate my employee who in turn will work very hard, take good care of my customers and the customers will of course take good care of the company. So it’s a triangle, the company does well, help the employees, who helps the customers … it just keeps going round and round. It’s a very positive cycle and so therefore, I believe that you reward those who work hard. And better themselves. And make themselves more value. That’s where I really have a problem with this equality of pay. It should be an equality of opportunity. 

Subject #5: Let’s get back to philanthropy. I think as far as philanthropy, so much of it is about relationships and then learning about, you know, what an organization’s doing. And, does it strike a chord with you. We donate to (REDACTED) Health Services and that’s an organization that serves like 3,500 WIC, which is Women Infants and Children, a month. They basically help … and that’s. I mean mine has been more trying to help people.

Subject #4: And I guess that’s the challenge the college has. You want to help a winner. I don’t care at what level. I think the Y is very well run. It’s obviously a non for profit. It helps a fair amount of the community as far as… But over the years it has been very fortunate to have good management and the Y does a good job. And so for helping them I have no problem. They are a good organization that serves the community and they do it in a good manner. Where as some other charities … the United Way is a cross of the good and the bad. Not that they don’t try to work well, but they are more of helping everybody. And I am saying no we would rather use the rifle than shotgun. And that’s the challenge the college has, it has got to convey to its family which is faculty, students, donors, community and so on, that it’s got big challenges. But yet it’s got to convey that it can meet those challenges. It’s a very fine line. Especially the faculty, I think that’s those most difficult. 

Dan: You have to be honest about the challenges, but you have to portray that you’ve got a good chance at success if you keep with your plan.

(Miscellaneous discussions about colleges and finance. Ending on a question of whether charity was nature or nurture.)

Subject #4: I think it is nurture… the way Subject #5 was brought up who saw her father who gave. I don’t care how he gave, he gave. He was a generous person of limited means. My father gave, he gave relative to his means which was substantial. But also our company. Our employees gave. So it was sort of that’s what you do. Yeah the Judeo-Christian ethics …

Subject #5: I think there is a feeling you get … like, one of the biggest things that we would get into arguments about and we still do is tipping. When we first started going together, he was so damn cheap, really Subject #4 you were, and we go to a hotel and we would have to drag our stuff in and not let anybody 

Subject #4: You are so liberal dear so therefore 

Subject #5: Well, I just look at it like these are people that are helping you and they don’t make much money.

Subject #4: No you are wrong dear. Right now one of the highest paid professions is waitstaff in a very good restaurant. I believe tipping is a relative thing.

Subject #5: Well, anyway we 

Subject #4: I believe that if you are going to a restaurant that’s is costing $100 per person, you are going to percentage wise tip very low. If I’m going to the diner, by the way we really had a good lunch at the Quentin Diner today. It was under $10, we were going to tip 25% because it’s so low, they still do the same work. 

Subject #5: We don’t agree on tipping.

Subject #4: I look upon it as what would you provide and what did you get. And not this automatic formula that everybody gets 15% or 20% or whatever.

Subject #5: Yeah, but some of the things you were ridiculous. 

Subject #4: I’m not saying I wasn’t bad.

Subject #5: It was embarrassing.

Dan: (Segue to conversation about observations of support among other species) Like bats, they go out hunting at night … the ones that are not successful get fed by the ones that are successful.

Subject #5: Isn’t that interesting

Dan: And, we may not all be so good that we would help the Samaritan by putting him up in a hotel. But do we all have something in us that says we should help that person. Do we act on that urge or not. Do we have it in us that we should.

Subject #4: I think that is varies upon the individual.

Dan: You don’t think that people see that helpless person along the road and not be affected to the point of helping.

Subject #5: See I think you gotta help.

Subject #4: I read a book once about the effect the first time you shot somebody … like in WWII when you could see the person you were shooting … you threw up … a lot of soldiers; the second one you were upset but not as much; by the time you killed the fifth person, you were fine…. so you learn the reaction. Your natural instinct was not to kill. I don’t know that … but killing animals now there you have a total disparity. I think squirrels should be could killed, period. Rats should be killed, not chipmunks, I like chipmunks.

Dan: So it sounds like you believe it might be human nature to not want to kill another human being. We might be hard wired to not want to do that.

Subject #4: I think as a general statement, yeah I think that’s true.

Dan: So you believe we might have some kind of quality that says we don’t want to kill another human, but you are not sure that we have quality that says I care about that other human being as an extension of my community.

Subject #4: But that’s animals. Except for a very few exceptions, very few animals kill for pleasure. They kill to eat. I forget, I think a polar bear might be one that kills just to kill. And there are a few others that do that but 90% or more.

Subject #5: I do think there is , for me, there is a visceral response. If I feel like I am really helping somebody then I feel really good about it. And, I mean I basically try to help everyone.

Subject #4: No you are an extremely kind person, you are. Was it genetic or was it because what you saw or just somehow … I mean can you really explain it. Again, I go back two our granddaughters. They are totally different and neither of them are like their parents, period. …

Subject #5: No as I was saying Dan, I really do have a visceral response if I feel like I’ve helped somebody. Whether that was like a genetic thing … I don’t know. It’s not euphoria, but it’s just a like I said it just a visceral reaction. I feel if I’ve done something

Subject #4: Well one question, if you help somebody and then they let you down because they squander what you give them

Subject #5: Oh that’s what happened to me. It was very disappointing … there was a young

Subject #4: But you helped them again.

Subject #5: No, no. I did help this one young woman that lived in the very poor section of (REDACTED) around WalMart. And this was when I was at the hospital and she had had two little girls from different fathers and she was pregnant with a third. And, she couldn’t make her rent payment and I was in no position to be doing what I did. But, I did help her and one of the things I said to her is don’t get pregnant again. Ok, because if you do I’m done. You’ve already going to have three and she had the third, she had a third girl. And I would go at Christmas time and bring presents for the girls and at Thanksgiving I got the whatever … she was (REDACTED background information). But then she got pregnant again and also I began to notice … it was really dumb … I was giving her the money … that she was getting all this gold jewelry. And that was the end of it. You know because I knew … I felt bad for the children but she was still their mother and so I had to cut that whole thing right off because she was just taking advantage and it wasn’t going where I thought it should go. At the time I really did want to help that family and those little girls. So what was your question?

Subject #4: Well no, I knew that story … that’s what I was thinking of …

Subject #5: Ok and here’s another example. There was a charity here in town and it’s not being run by the same person now. It was the Heart Association and the woman, at that time, was in charge and she would come to me for a donation and one year it was about childhood obesity. And we donated. And then you wouldn’t hear anything until the following year just before the Heart Ball and that was one that I shut off because to me it’s about relationships. You don’t just expect … you don’t have no contact with me all years. You know even a phone call. Like this is where the money went or something like that. And that was one that I just stopped you know having any relationship with. It takes awhile with me but once I hit a wall … you know I’m being taken advantage of that’s it.

Subject #4: Well no I think that’s it’s very critical to feel your money is not being wasted. For me as a business person giving is an investment. Invested in something else … my return is what that person is going to do whether it’s an institution or an individual or whatever the project.

Subject #5: Oh, you know what I want to share with you. I want to share with Dan

Subject #4: If it’s not being shared wisely … I really have problems giving to a building at (REDACTED) because they insist on paying the most ridiculous … unions, unions, unions, and they cost 1/3 more construction then anyone else and that really bothers me. I would rather help you know if somebody with their school but this giving for a building I am very much turned off by that because they waste it as far as I … they just don’t use their money wisely. But the time when we built the swimming pool in that area, the gym, that was unbelievable. … so it was a fantastic investment. We go out money’s worth. So giving or working it’s the same thing.

Dan: Well, let me propose a question to you … think about, not necessarily you, but ten friends that you have and I imagine you travel in a circle where you know whether those other ten friends are also generous to the charities of their choice, probably. Think about just a collection of ten of them. And imagine a scenario where there is no tax deductibility for charitable support and you’re not allowed to provide recognition for charitable support. How many of those ten would stop giving.

Subject #4: Now there you’ve got two different things. Number one I don’t think 

Subject #5: I’m looking for a quote that I want to share with you 

Subject #4: I don’t think you give it for a tax deduction especially if it’s substantial because there are tax laws … more and more complicated … myself I don’t for the tax deduction … my way I’ve got a lot accrued that it’s … the odds of me getting any tax advantage are very slim. But no recognition at all, that’s hard … now some people that give substantial gifts that are anonymous … not too many as you well know.

Dan: I spoke to a person in another interview that said if you have faith the highest level of giving is to be sure you don’t receive any recognition for your contribution. And he said that’s the kind of thing that I’m going to shoot for. I want to be able to get to a point where I receive no recognition for my contribution and (Subject #5: and it’s not necessary) totally selfless. And I want to do it because I think it’s the right thing to do and I don’t want anybody else to know about it.

Subject #5: Here’s our family quote “Money can be a tool, a test or a testimony, as a tool it can help us realize our dreams as a test wealth can reveal our true character through the manner in which we spend or acquire it and it bares testimony to our core values by the role it plays in our life.”

Dan: Can you email that to me.

Subject #5: I sure can.

Dan: That’s really nice.

Subject #5: Let me write it down because to try to find it…I’ll write it down for you Dan.

Dan: Or text it to me or whatever.

Dan: So, I’m going to go back to my question because I don’t think I got a good answer to it. Think about 10 of your friends. You can even imagine … go through them in your own mind and say … if this person when they gave away money nobody was allowed to know about it they would stop giving or if nobody else could know about it would they stop giving … of those 10 five of them would or zero would. They would give because it’s just the right thing to do. There is no pressure, there is no reward and they feeling giving is only intrinsic.

Subject #4: You know, I don’t know that I know our friends that well and their giving. I can’t really answer that. Can you Subject #5?

Subject #5: You know, that’s really tough because I think … I’m just trying to think. I think we’ve got friends that probably wouldn’t give if they were not going to be recognized. 

Subject #4: Well, do you think any would give without any recognition. 

Subject #5: I think so. We’ve done it without recognition.

Subject #4: I don’t think really given without recognition.

Subject #5: Yes we have.

Subject #5: We’ve done stuff nobody knows Subject #4.

Subject #4: Mostly very small things.

Subject #5: It doesn’t matter. We’ve still given

Subject #4: Well that’s true 

Subject #5: We are getting away from Dan’s question. I think we do have friends that do give, but I think they also want the recognition. The one’s that I can think of off the top of my head.

Subject #4: But I think that if somebody felt like …. I think that people that give to Wounded Warriors there’s no recognition, I would say … I don’t think so and a lot of people give to it. I think it depends on the type of thing … giving to the college whether the students are getting help, a building’s being built … this is a very tangible … it’s still a substance … where in the case of Wounded Warriors …

Subject #5: But that’s a nationally … I mean you can …. It’s more the local recognition like with the college, with Lebanon Family Health Services … I mean Wounded Warriors you can send $25 a month … you know that’s different … I think that’s different.

Subject #4: I send them a fair amount of money

Subject #5: Yeah but it’s still different. It’s not that personal … you are getting that mail and then you turn around and you donate.

Subject #4: But in this case I went to see the founder … and do I occasionally give things in the mail … more and more I try to check on the internet … 

Dan: So since we can agree that tax deductibility may have an impact for some people, can we still feel like using philanthropy for a proxy for altruism, giving something without anything in receipt … any expectation of receipt. Is that a fair way to think about measuring altruism.

Subject #5: I think it is 

Subject #4: There’s no question … I would think that giving smaller amounts … recognition you don’t expect or don’t really … it’s like when you give to the Special Olympics they’ve got to send you something … I don’t need you to send me anything … just use the money wisely don’t send me whatever … which indirectly is recognition. To me what they are saying … what your threshold is … if you give them 50 bucks … it mean this thing has to cost something … that … it just seems that’s not a wise … I’m just giving because … even if I was giving a reasonable amount and then again … I would think that … it’s going to affect … if you don’t think you are getting a deduction … psychologically you are going to give a little bit less. Some people … maybe not all people. Recognition is still you like the good feeling …

Subject #5: It’s nice

Dan: You do it because you believe in the mission. When you get recognized for it, it reinforces 

Subject #5: It reinforces

Subject #4: I would almost say recognition is less important than being sure the money is being used where I expect it to be used. Indirectly recognition at times gives you that because 

Dan: It gives you the reassurance 

Subject #4: In theory you could say a room that is named after you … but that isn’t the part of the building that you literally built … no you didn’t …. Aren’t you finding now that more people are giving to the endowment which is surprising to me and less for buildings?

Dan: It kind of goes back and forth. Actually when the stock market goes up people think about endowment because they know that it makes a difference. And that’s where we are over the last couple of years. We’ve had a good ride and people can see that performance has been better. It kind of depends. But, you have both been very generous with your time. If we meet on the street and you say I’ve been thinking about this and this is what I really believe … I believe that there’s absolutely nothing to the idea that we have an altruistic gene or …

Subject #5: You know it’s very interesting

Subject #4: I think it is interesting because people of so different backgrounds do different things.

Dan: Right. So I guess what I’m saying is if you grew up in Africa and in Europe or Australia or the United States or Canada or Mexico or Argentina. When you were born and when you were two years old or four years old or six years old and something and you had the propensity or the ability to help and knowing that they are not going to be able to … you are doing it because you just think it is the right thing to do … does that happen or are …

Subject #5: I honestly feel that I would do that.

Dan: Regardless of your upbringing

(Long story about a runaway dog, a neighbor finding the dog and returning it and wanting no reward.)

Dan: That’s altruism … so he did that because … and he does it expecting no reward and feeling as though there is no possible future benefit to him. That’s altruism and if it exists in the animal kingdom … I guess that I am coming around to the idea that, does that tendency exist in humans and do we have a genetic disposition for it?

Subject #5: I think.

Dan: It’s more than just, “The strong will survive and the weak will fall by the wayside.”

Subject #4: I am going to say it’s a majority. 

Subject #5: But genetically it’s like you have some genes and other genes you don’t … mutations or whatever.

Subject #4: But you are back to whether this is innate? If somebody is brought up in a very positive religious environment which tends to mean you and giving and kind and that … as opposed to somebody who is born in the reverse of that, very negative very hate society … and then again some people are brought up and some turn out very different.

Subject #5: And that’s where it could be something in their genetic makeup.

Subject #4: Yeah, there could be.

Dan: It could be and I would submit and possibly we might all have a tendency towards that but nurture influences it

Subject #5: That’s right…your environment. I think it’s your environment …You know that as you learn more about need and you are in an environment that is like here … you know that people do give that that can change … if you already have the genetic tendency that enhances it. But it can also be a deterrent if you are in 

Dan: Right so maybe we have a genetic tendency or genetic inclination but nurture influences that as much as anything else.

Subject #5: Absolutely

Subject #4: When you look at the evolution of man … man was very much a survivor … man was also a cannibal … and it was totally the dominant of the strong … first of all slavery … that is the way it is … we conquered you; you are now a slave … that’s it … your life was to your master, period. Or so there wasn’t a gene in that group … I’m superior and you are inferior and your job is to serve me … this was the culture of the age for a long period of time. But there was a whole 1,000 years … that’s the way it was …. It wasn’t a matter of being generous, being kind … you were born into it … 

Subject #5: I think it’s a very interesting premise and it’s like I said to you there is no question in my mind that I was going to be a nurse and going and volunteering at the office where my mother worked and then seeing what my father did. But it was just in me … there was no question that’s what I wanted. My father wanted me to be a teacher … we couldn’t afford to go to college at that point and I was in Rhode Island and could go through Rhode Island hospital. It was a three year program and between scholarships and everything, a three year program there cost $500. And you lived there, you were the staff to the hospital but when we graduated we were ready. The kids today … they are not ready.

Subject #4: The percentage of people giving is going down, isn’t it?

Dan: It is.