...This past month, when he was given the first "Donald Bren Legacy of Giving Award," (a permanent award created by the investment group that backs National Philanthropy Day in Orange County), the group listed Bren's total charity – so far -- at $1.3 billion and some 93,000 acres of land...
Q. Some of your gifts have touched areas that don't seem to have much to do with your core businesses. Can you fill in some detail about why you give the way you do?
A. Rather than limiting my contributions to a singular geography, I have tried to focus on certain areas of need – education, for example. I believe that by doing so, we can collectively have the greatest impact. I believe the greatest investment we can make is in the education of our children, wherever they live. Using THINK Together as an example, I saw a need off The Irvine Ranch, in Santa Ana, to help improve the quality of education in local public schools. Through my partnership with THINK Together, we have been able to serve some 70,000 at-risk and low-income students, raise test scores and improve the overall quality of life for children throughout Southern California.
Q. Your developments and reputation indicate that you see minute detail as critical to the success of any venture. Do you take the same mindset when involved in philanthropy? Do your nonprofit projects take on a life similar to business projects?
A. I consider myself lucky because I have been able to transfer many of my business experiences and much of my own time toward creating nonprofit community investments. And I do try to bring the same level of attention to both my philanthropic and business ventures.
Q. How does one measure the success of a gift?
A. We use the same philosophy for our nonprofit investments as we do for our real estate investments. First, we ask that the nonprofits we support to have goals and to be able to measure their results. We also look for strong leadership, with a passion in their mission. And our nonprofit partners have done a fantastic job due to this shared philosophy and focus. (Full Story)