During the span of his long career, T. Boone Pickens has created thousands of jobs and made millions of millions of dollars— for others as well as himself — and he isn’t timid about spreading it around. “I like making money. I like giving it away…. not as much as I like making it, but it’s a close second,” he has often said.
The breadth of his philanthropy — approaching $1 billion during his career — includes health and medical research, treatment and services; entrepreneurship; kids at risk; education and athletics, with a particular focus on his alma mater, Oklahoma State University; corporate health and fitness; and conservation and wildlife management. While many donations involve millions of dollars and attract headlines, there are hundreds more ranging from hundreds of thousands to several hundred. Each is important in its own way.
In 2006, his charitable activities, which included $175 million and the establishment of the T. Boone Pickens Foundation ensured his continued ranking as one of the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s list of top U.S. philanthropists for the second straight year. The Pickens Foundation is improving lives through grants supporting educational programs, medical research, athletics and corporate wellness, at-risk youths, the entrepreneurial process and conservation and wildlife initiatives.
In 2007, Pickens brought his innovative entrepreneurial approach to the philanthropic sector, announcing the Foundation's largest gifts yet — $50 million each for two University of Texas health care institutions: UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas and The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Under unique agreements, the gifts will create special funds at the institutions, requiring that they grow to $1 billion ($500 million each) within 25 years from earnings on the original principal and/or from new outside donations solicited by the institutions. When the $500 million marks are reached, the institutions will be able to distribute the funds as they deem fit.
In many ways, Pickens is a record-setting philanthropist. His $165 million gift to his alma mater, Oklahoma State University, in 2005 is the single largest gift for athletics in NCAA history, and the $7 million donation to the American Red Cross in 2005 is the largest individual contribution in the 150-year history of that organization. So far, Pickens has given nearly $500 million to OSU, split nearly evenly between academics and athletics.
“I firmly believe one of the reasons I was put on this Earth was to make money, and be generous with it,” Pickens says. “And that’s what I’ve continually tried to do.”
Visit the T. Boone Pickens Foundation website.