This holiday season, Philanthropy Roundtable is revisiting a conversation between Roundtable President and CEO Elise Westhoff and entrepreneur and philanthropist Ray Dalio from the most recent episode of our interview series, “Doers to Donors.” In this interview, Dalio discusses his campaign to redefine holiday gift giving by encouraging charitable gifts instead of material gifts.
Bridgewater Associates Founder and Co-Chief Investment Officer Ray Dalio’s foray into philanthropy was inspired by his son, Matt Dalio, who launched a foundation to help Chinese orphans with special needs. “That began our journey,” Dalio told Elise Westhoff in the most recent episode of “Doers to Donors.”
Over the years, Dalio says his family’s philanthropic journey has brought them great joy. Through their charitable organization, Dalio Philanthropies, the family supports a bevy of causes, including education, medical research, mental health, entrepreneurship and ocean exploration, among others.
Now, through a campaign to redefine holiday gift giving, Dalio is encouraging people to give the experience of philanthropy instead of what he called “wasteful gifts” that often wind up in the trash bin. For example, according to Dalio, the money spent on holiday candy each year is greater than the annual budgets of the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society and Habitat for Humanity combined.
“It bothered me, and it bothered a lot of people, to give wasteful gifts when so many people are suffering,” he told Westhoff. “So, what I started to do was give people money to donate to their favorite charity.”
Dalio gifts the funds through TisBest, an organization that “empower[s] people to support causes they’re passionate about.” Recipients of TisBest gift cards can donate the funds to any of the 1.8 million charitable causes in the organization’s database. Click here to see the website’s categories of giving or to search for a specific charity.
Dalio estimated “thousands, perhaps tens of thousands” of people have participated in his charitable giving campaign and said the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
“I hope to change holiday gifting so that people can understand and enjoy that kind of gift. It’s so much more in keeping with the season,” he said. “When people tell me, ‘Oh, I donated it to this charity’… that’s meaningful for me. The conversations are wonderful.”