Recently, I got fascinated with West Michigan’s philanthropic patterns. Unlike other places where the wealthy status is established by the ostentatious display of wealth through clothes, jewelry or cars; the West Michigan social clout is defined by how much a family has given away. And leading the way, there is the DeVos family represented by Dick DeVos and his wife, Betsy DeVos.
I knew about the couple majorly as donors to Republican candidates. However what took me by surprise is their much larger donations to all other philanthropic activities. Their large contribution of $5.3 million to Republican candidates of the presidential elections paled in comparison to their $11.6 million charitable contributions in 2015 alone. What humbled me more was that fact that Dick admitted to his philanthropic streak being deeply embedded in him by his dad, Richard DeVos who is not only the co-founder of Amway Corporation but also a highly reputed and respected philanthropist. He had three other sons besides Dick; all are known to donate more than generously. It is only recently that the couple has started throwing light on their lifetime contribution legacy.
Dick joined his father’s business in 1974, and he quickly climbed to the position of vice president by 1984. By this time he was handling the Amway’s brand operation in eighteen countries. In 1989, he founded his own company, The Windquest Group which manufactured as well as marketed storage and closet organizers. He went through several experiments and change to finally again concentrate entirely on Windquest Group in 2002.
However, I think, more than his illustrious career, Dick and his wife Betsy will be known and remembered for their philanthropic activities. Recently, the couple humbly accepted of donating over 139 million dollars to various causes and institutions during their lifetime. Their entire family legacy of donation today crosses the one billion dollar mark which amounts to one-fourth of their total fortune. Dick personally is more inclined to donate in the education sector more than the others. His total donation in this sector stands at three-hundred-and-fifty-seven thousand dollars. His passion became evident to me when he stated in an interview that their present education system failed in fulfilling the American dream.
Another passion of his philanthropic streak is seen in his efforts to increase both knowledge and awareness about arts. Is it any wonder that this family ranks 24th in the Forbes list of “America’s Top Givers.”