Margaret Cargill is not a household name. She was a decidedly shy person who tried to make a difference in her life. She certainly did not want accolades or credit for her philanthropic work, though she donated around $200 million to different charities during her life. That remarkable number was dwarfed upon her death when she left $6 billion to different charities, placing her at #1 on the Chronicles of Philanthropies ranking of charitable donations at the time.
She became the most charitable person you’ve never heard of.
Reshma Saujani’s parents were Indian nationals, living in Uganda. She tells the story of how her father watched the dictator Idi Amin, the butcher of Uganda, on TV informing any immigrant that they were to leave the country immediately. Her father moved the family to the U.S. giving her the break she needed. After graduating from Yale Law School, she went on to run for the Democratic nomination for the House of Representatives in New York’s 14th congressional district in 2010.
She lost by a landslide (81%-19%).
Despite the setback, she started the national, non-profit company Girls Who Code. She has dedicated her life to building a bridge into the IT community for women. Her company understands that a huge majority of girls are interested in technological jobs, but the majority of those jobs are filled by men. Her goal is to help train and place those girls in the jobs of their dreams, and it is working. The company is twenty times bigger than when it started. Despite her setbacks, Reshma has found her life’s calling, in giving.
Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh recently publicized two grants, one for $267.5 million and the other $125 million respectively, from a man who had not met his own philanthropic goal. William Dietrich II set a goal to grow his donation to over one billion dollars before he died. I’m sure the recipients of the $500 million total that he did leave think it was enough.
Each of these people were able to give incredibly, not because they were or are great people, which is true, but because they made difference in the world first. They were not average. They tried, failed made mistakes and eventually came out on top.
Next year, at this time, who could you imagine helping incredibly, if you made a big enough difference in the world first? If you made that leap to a better career what difference could you make?
Margaret Thatcher said,
“No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he’d only had good intentions; he had money as well.”