Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Jane Mendillo, the manager...

...of Harvard’s $32.7 billion endowment, plans to step down by the end of the year, according to an article in the Times today.

Yes, you read that right: $32.7 billion, with a "B."

Kind of makes you wonder why anyone would give money to Harvard.

"Are you an alum? Great! How about a donation? Ten bucks, a hundred, a thousand? Any little bit helps, you know."

Or does it?

Ken Griffin, the money manager, donated $150 million to his alma mater last year -- the largest gift to Harvard ever. That was very generous of him. But if my math is correct (always a shaky proposition), that means Griffin's sum amounts to less than half a percent of Harvard's endowment. Does the nation's oldest university really need that money? Could it possibly change anything? And what does that say about your average tycoon's measly million-dollar bequest? Hint: it's not even a rounding error.

"Hey, did we ever get Griffin's check?"

"I don't know. Hey, does anybody here know if we ever got Griffin's check?"


"Maybe we lost it. Who cares?"

The moral of the story: If you have money to donate to a good cause, find a good cause. Not one that doesn't even know if they got your check.

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