Steve's Reflections


"I'm personally interested in funding research that may lead to a restoration of the hair on my head."

When the Foundation was first established, Steve Kirsch started outlining his thoughts on a variety of topics of concern to him. Some “Reflections” are more current than others – please select from the list to find those of interest to you.

Reflection #1

"Why not give all your money to charity?"

In all my years as a philanthropist, I’ve never been asked this question.

But I’ve definitely thought about it a lot. I have more than I need myself. Why not give virtually all of it to charity today and keep maybe $20M or so for my family to secure our financial future?

First and foremost, we (Michele and I) have more flexibility with funds before we make a donation than afterward, so keeping a certain amount of our net worth within our control maintains that flexibility.

If we were worth $2 billion, should we donate $1.8 billion to charity? Probably not, since not all causes fall within the IRS' charitable guidelines. We would likely settle on an asset ratio of 50/50 and use the non-charitable assets in the following ways:

  • We would invest aggressively to achieve a higher rate of return than would be appropriate for a public charity, and then put the proceeds of our more aggressive investing to work in the charitable foundation.
  • We would invest in, and support, causes that are not allowed within IRS guidelines, such as lobbying and political campaigns, which may be the most effective and efficient means to accomplishing our philanthropic goals.

So the bottom line is that it is a balancing act. Keeping some in reserve now can mean a lot more for charitable purposes later. But keeping it all in reserve now is foolish.

Back to top

home | who we are | how to apply for grants | what we've done
what we care about | why give