Lester Crown on Philanthropy

from Chicago Tribune:

Q&A: Chicago’s Lester Crown on how his family doles out charity

Chicago’s Crown and Pritzker families will be among 10 recipients of the Andrew Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy being awarded Thursday in New York. The award is given every two years to individuals and families with exceptional and sustained records of philanthropic giving, according to the Carnegie Corp. How does a billionaire guide his charitable giving? We asked industrialist Lester Crown, chairman of Henry Crown & Co., who will accept the award on behalf of his family.

Q: How did you determine what causes you wanted to focus on?

A: Our agenda for philanthropic work centers on, in order, Jewish causes and needs locally, nationally and internationally, and that’s primarily Israel, obviously. (Then) local needs of Chicago. Three, education, and four is everything: It includes medical, arts and culture, and all civic matters.

We lived in the right country at the right time and have been extremely fortunate. When you have been that fortunate, you owe a great deal back to the society. Under Jewish tradition it’s called tzedakah. It really means responsibility. … The responsibility that you have to others.