The story of Ted Turner’s business accomplishments – from creating the “superstation” concept to launching CNN to owning the Atlanta Braves – would have made a great biopic on his Turner Classic Movies channel. But all of that might be viewed as simply a prelude. For, as he explains: “As soon as I got rich, I started philanthropy.”
“If I had to live my life over,” he adds in his Giving Pledge letter, “there are things I would do differently, but the one thing I would not change is my charitable giving.” That’s why he tells fellow billionaires to start giving early.
His large philanthropic efforts include the Turner Foundation, dedicated to protecting the climate, curbing population growth, and maintaining wildlife habitat – particularly for bison and great apes. Beyond that, he made a historic pledge of $1 billion to assist the United Nations’ mission through his UN Foundation, and he also launched the Nuclear Threat Initiative – neither of which bears his name, by design.
Two of Turner’s particular concerns are the linked issues of overpopulation and women’s rights. He is working through his UN Foundation to ensure that more than 250 million poor women worldwide gain access to contraceptives. But even the smallest acts of philanthropy are important, he says. Case in point: he nursed a magpie fledgling back to life with dog food.