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CNN Today

New American Wealth Has Many Looking For Ways to Give Back

Aired March 23, 2000 - 1:25 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: In 1990, there were fewer than 75 billionaires in the United States. Now that are four times as many.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: All that wealth has many people looking for ways to give some of that money back.

CNN's Bill Delaney says the move is creating a new philanthropy with an old philosophy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL DELANEY, CNN BOSTON BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): About three years ago now, Nantucket Nectars, the fruit juice company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, turned a financial corner after years of struggle, and Tom First and Tom Scott, who'd started out selling juice off the back of a sailboat, had a problem. Having created what's now a $75-million-a-year company, they didn't know what to do with all that money.

TOM FIRST, NANTUCKET NECTARS: Neither of us ever got into business because we were trying to make money, believe it or not.

TOM SCOTT, NANTUCKET NECTARS: But as an American, I think you have an obligation to give back to the system that gave you the opportunity to make that money. There's probably a number beyond which it's just enough money for your kids to do a ton of drugs and for you to get divorced five or six times.

DELANEY: They wanted to do some good but were deluged with hundreds of calls a week for contributions, only gradually, over years, managing to create a nonprofit foundation to focus the giving of what now amounts to millions of dollars a year.

(on camera): A dilemma, though, facing more and more people in the United States as more and more people get rich. There were 66 billionaires in the country 10 years ago. There are now at least 268 -- a new world of wealth that, for the most part, still isn't being directed, as with Nantucket Nectar's money, toward changing the world.

(voice-over): Giving hasn't gone up anywhere near as dramatically as getting, says Chuck Collins, who's co-authored a new book called "Robin Hood Was Right," a guide for the new and old rich, how to spend their money to help people. CHUCK COLLINS, CO-AUTHOR: The problem is people give to what they know. So if you only know your alma mater and you know a certain class of country club charities, you give to those.

DELANEY: Collin's book attempts to steer money toward dozens of carefully-screened grassroots organizations, like Direct Action for Rights and Equality, which works with the poor in Providence, Rhode Island, to cite just one example.

The book's co-author, Pam Rogers, has met many young dot.com millionaires. Her pitch to them: the idea of change, not charity, is like being a venture capitalist.

PAM ROGERS, CO-AUTHOR: The payoff for a venture capitalist is a successful business. But the payoff for social change giving is a better, more educated, safer community. Now who wouldn't want that?

DELANEY: The two Toms of Nantucket Nectars had no book to guide them through the thickets of doing good. Having found a way, though, they do believe programs like their effort to tutor inner-city kids matter.

FIRST: It makes you feel good, though. It's a great way to be selfish, and it's -- you know, when you meet the kid that you have an impact on, it's -- that is the biggest reward of all time.

DELANEY: The richest 1 percent of the United States now control 45 percent of all the country's wealth, double their share just 25 years ago, why some are saying Robin Hood's old, gallant pitch -- take from the rich, give to the poor -- has never been more on the money.

Bill Delaney, CNN, Boston.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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