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THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS: TOP 20 PHILANTHROPISTS UNDER 40

We’re No. 38! A recent analysis of IRS data from 2006 to 2012 by the Chronicle of Philanthropy found that New Yorkers gave 2.6 percent of our income to charity, an 8.8 percent decline during the six-year period.

So many lesser cities—37, to be exact—gave so much more. Salt Lake City, great skiing, sure, but Salt Lake City? Its residents top the generosity index, giving 5.4 percent (more than double the rate of New Yorkers) and increased their donations during the span studied, which included some economically depressing years.

Memphis followed close behind with a giving rate of 5.1 percent; it’s enough to make New Yorkers sing the blues. The study also examined donor incomes. The wealthy, defined as those earning $200,000 or more (we know 200K might go a long way in Utah, but Manhattan?) reduced charitable giving by 4.6 percent. During the same time, Americans earning less than $100,000 spent 4.5 percent more of their incomes on philanthropy. The data should be a taken as a challenge rather than a rebuke.

For further inspiration, meet 20 of our generous neighbors under 40 years of age who are profiled here. Some, like our cover philanthropists, designer Zac Posen, actress Olivia Wilde, the Giants’ Eli Manning and the Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony, are familiar faces who leverage their fame to benefit society; others, such as Jason Franklin and Alexandre Mars, work behind the scenes to make it easier for philanthropists to give away more.

For Michael Quattrone, John D. Rockefeller’s progeny, supporting charity is an old family tradition; while Michelle Javian conceived her innovative nonprofit to comfort the families of cardiac patients after witnessing her father’s ultimately fatal battle with heart disease.

Whatever the motive, there’s another compelling reason to open your checkbook often: Self-interest. As an article on the Cleveland Clinic’s website points out, giving is “good for the giver.” The story cites a 2006 National Institute of Health study that monitored the brains of the charitable with MRI’s. Giving apparently “stimulates the mesolimbic pathway, which is the reward center in the brain, releasing endorphins and creating what is known as the ‘helper’s high.’ ”

So consider your next donation philanthropic Prozac. And we trust the stories that follow prompt you to refill your prescription. — David Wallis

ALEXANDRE MARS

Philanthropists want to know their donations are going to good use, but they do not always have the time or resources to verify it. Enter Alexandre Mars. A French-born entrepreneur who has started and sold communications and social media companies, Mr. Mars recently traveled the world—“Vietnam, Russia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Thailand, Peru”—to search for solutions to improve philanthropy.

Along the way he had a revelation: “There are many powerful people with money who have a hard time giving it away because they have no trust, no time, and don’t know where to start.”

Tapping the can-do, tech-savvy spirit of the age, Mr. Mars, 39, recently launched Epic Foundation to “disrupt the philanthropic industry” by “developing new tools that will enhance how donors select, monitor and experience their impact.”

Epic’s approach involves soliciting applications from NGOs and social enterprises throughout the world and recommending 20 to its clients, tracking where donations go and making it easier for clients to see their money in action.

Epic has already attracted 1,400 applications, which its team is busy vetting. Cost for the service? “We charge nothing, so 100 percent of what you give will go directly to the organization,” says Mr. Mars. And how is Mr. Mars paying Epic’s staff of 15? “I’m self-funding everything,” he says. “That was the point of making a lot of money before I got into philanthropy.”—Neal Santelmann

Read more at The Observer

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