AIMA Report Highlights Hedge Fund Philanthropy

May 1 2013 | 11:38am ET

A new report from a major hedge fund lobby group focuses on the industry's softer side: its charity work.

The Alternative Investment Management Association has just released Contributing to Communities, a 44-page report on the charitable activities of hedge funds “from workplace giving schemes and industry fundraising campaigns for charity to individual examples of philanthropy.”

Said Andrew Baker, AIMA CEO, in a statement: “With this report, which we believe to be the first of its kind compiled, we have sought to look at the hedge fund industry’s charitable and philanthropic activities globally, including projects and donations that support education, healthcare, the arts and disadvantaged communities throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia.

The United States, home to the largest number of hedge funds, also leads the way in terms of charitable donations, says the report, including such examples as George Soros, whose Open Society Foundation donated $742 million to various causes in 2010 (latest available data); Paul Tudor Jones, whose Robin Hood Foundation (which receives donations from across the industry as well as public fundrasing drives) gave $146 million to dozens of poverty-fighting programs in New York in 2012; and Moore Capital founder Louis Bacon, who has spent close to $400 million on land for conservation easements.

In Europe, Brevan Howard's Alan Howard heads a charitable trust which donated over £3.7 million  to Jewish religious education and health organizations while David Harding of Winton Capital gave £1 million to Berlin’s Max Planck Institute for Human Developmen through is family foundation.

In Asia, as the hedge fund industry grows, so does its interest in charity work, says AIMA, citing the success of Hong Kong's annual Fight Nite benefit—a boxing card featuring fund managers and service providers.

In addition, says AIMA, a number of high-profile hedge fund managers—including Bill Ackman, Ray Dalio, Christopher Hohn, Julian Robertson, Jim Simons and Tom Steyer—have signed Warren Buffet and Bill Gates' Giving Pledge, vowing to donate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy.

The report notes that charities often benefit from the skills their hedge fund board members bring to the table. Jessica Pliska of The Opportunity Network (a US-based group that helps “high-achieving, underserved high school and college students”) told AIMA she'd rarely thought about business planning before professionals from the hedge fund community joined her board.

Still, says Baker, much of the good hedge funds do many never been known as “very often the industry’s charitable and philanthropic activities are done in private, and without publicity.”

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    One of the most unique charity benefits in the hedge fund industry, A Leg To Stand On's (ALTSO's) Hedge Fund Rocktoberfest - NYC, raised nearly $500,000 last Thursday thanks to the generous support of major sponsors and nearly 1,400 attendees from the Tri-State finance, business and hedge fund communities. Read more…