David Azrieli, chairman of the Azrieli Group, announced on Sunday that he would donate 5.7 percent of his shares in the group – which are worth an estimated NIS 800 million – to his family’s philanthropic foundation.
The donation will be among the largest ever given to an Israeli foundation.
“I am a great believer in harnessing business achievements for the good of philanthropy and the creation of a platform in which NGOs can enjoy resources for many years, resources that will give them capital for their activity,” said Azrieli. “Giving back to the community in fields of education, science and social advancement was the key to enhancing Israel’s sense of shared responsibility.”
Two weeks ago, The Jerusalem Post revealed that the Azrieli family was planning to ramp up its giving, expecting to match the collective $100 million they had donated over 23 years within the next five.
According to Forbes magazine, the 91-year-old Azrieli and his family are worth $3.1 billion, earning them a rank of 520 in the magazine’s 2014 billionaire’s list. The name is most closely associated with the iconic Azrieli towers – in the shape of a circle, square, and triangle – in downtown Tel Aviv.
The choice of donating shares was intended to provide steady, ongoing inflows to the philanthropic foundation, which is run by Danna Azrieli, Azrieli’s daughter and vice chairman of the Azrieli Group.
Though donating shares is not the most common way of contributing to charity, one Israeli foundation has made it its central business model.
Tmura, the Israeli Public Service Venture Fund, asks startups to donate equity in their young companies in hopes that when they go public or have an exit, they will reap the benefits. Like the Azrieli Foundation, they donate to education- and youth-related charities.