Bloomberg Slow to Ramp Up Giving

Although Bloomberg L.P. founder and former New York City mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, 72, gave more money to philanthropic causes than ever in 2013, the pace of his giving is slower than that of some his contemporaries who have pledged to give away their fortunes before they die, the reports.

In 2013, Bloomberg's net worth increased by $6 billion, making him the world's sixteenth-richest person, while his giving totaled $452 million. At his current rate of giving, however, he will only manage to give away half his fortune if he lives to the age of 102, as his mother did. By way of comparison, the , with which Bloomberg has partnered on several initiatives, gave away $3.6 billion in 2013 — more than the $3.3 billion has invested in various philanthropic causes and initiatives since it was established in 2006. One rival billionaire who asked to remain anonymous wondered why Bloomberg was not making larger contributions. "You want to meet your unique capabilities," he told the Times. "Giving away $2 billion in one shot — now that would meet Mike's capabilities."

Because he has been both an entrepreneur and a three-term mayor of the country's largest city, Bloomberg has a unique perspective on how to balance risk with practicalities, argues Paul G. Schervish, director of the at Boston College. For example, he seems to have focused his giving of late in countries where there is broad national support for his programs — be it Turkey, where Bloomberg Philanthropies spent $7 million on an antismoking campaign that helped reduce the smoking rate by 16 percent, or Mexico, where the foundation has supported efforts to reduce the consumption of sugary drinks and reduce the obesity rate.

Schervish further suggested that Bloomberg needed to make some changes, including hiring more than the thirty or so people his foundation currently employs. The Gates Foundation, to take one example, increased its staff to twelve hundred after it received an historic multi-billion-dollar gift from Warren Buffett  in 2006. Bloomberg isn't a fan of bureaucracies, however, and he has a reputation for being impatient. Indeed, he told the Times that he has considered adopting a matching grant strategy and/or supporting causes championed by other foundations as a way to step up the pace of his giving.

As he told the Times, "I don't have anything in common with people who stand on escalators. I always walk around them — why waste time? You have eternity to rest when you die."

Landon Thomas, Jr. "." New York Times 08/23/2014.