While billionaires like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Salesforce’s Marc Benioff, are known for their philanthropy, by one measure VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger could be considered even more generous.
Long ago, he publicly vowed to give an increasing percentage of his gross income to charity and he’s now up to 50%, he tells Business Insider.
“I make a lot of money so I can give a lot of money away. We have a small foundation, but most of it we just give directly from our revenue and overall holdings that we have,” he says.
“My wife and I set an objective early on to increase the percentage of our gross income every year to charities. We’re almost at 50%. For every dollar I get, I’m giving away 50% of gross income.”
He gives away so much of his income that he’s “running into tax limitations,” he says. “They don’t even let you write it off at that level. Appreciated assets is 30% and cash is 50% of income. So, I’m just accruing this deductible bucket for the future,” he laughs.
Most of his donations involve the Christian faith
As a dedicated Christian, his giving tends to involve the church.
For instance, helped establish a Christian university in Sacramento area, William Jessup, “producing next-generation of Christian leaders in business and church leaders.”
Another charity is “a church planting organisation, where we will plant about 70 churches this year across the Americas, US, and South America.” The churches in South America will also help sponsor and support children.
In the Bay Area, he’s chairman of an organisation called Transforming the Bay with Christ, an outreach program that does community service, starts churches, and helps existing churches network and work together.
He also supports Christian-oriented medical teams that participate in disaster relief efforts.
But his favourite charity is one that has sent thousands of kids to school in Africa.
“I have good friends who are leading this work in Africa, literally working in the slums of Nairobi. So we have over 10,000 kids now in schools and most of those kids are born of AIDS parents and now have have one or no parents. Most of them would not have gotten anywhere in life,” he says.
“We now have the first seniors going into college this year. Over half of the seniors are now going on to universities in Kenya, four of them are studying abroad on national scholarships. Those are pleasures that bring Linda and I more joy than any human should have,” he says.
That’s not to say that he never indulges himself. For instance, he just bought a new BMW i8, which he characterises is one of the “most enviable cars out there.”
But his true guilty pleasure is his multiple homes.
“I have a home in California. We kept our home in Oregon. We have a vacation home in Oregon. Sometimes I wonder, how many bedrooms does one man need?”
His wife, Linda, splits her time 50/50 between Oregon and the Bay Area, shuttling between grown children and grandchildren in both locations.
Gelsinger was born to very humble circumstances. The son of a farmer and still refers to himself as “a farm boy from Pennsylvania.”
He is grateful to have worked his way into the 1%.
“I live an extremely comfortable lifestyle, compared to where I came from. Some days I feel like just pinching myself. Could it be better? Literally a day that I’m not getting bit by horses or kicked by cows, or sweating in a hey mound, does it get better than that?”