«For a long time, philanthropy has been confused with charity»


The Spanish edition of Forbes came to light in March 2013, debuting with the mythical list of the richest in the world. Its editor and director, Andrés Rodríguez, is also behind the local editions of other US titles such as "Esquire", "Robb Report" or "The New York Times Style Magazine", through the publishing company Spainmedia. The local version of the mythical New York magazine goes a step further and edit a book dedicated to philanthropy. Is monthly magazine, around 25,000 copies of diffusion, brings together in one volume 15 very different profiles: Warren Buffet, Carlos Slim, Bill and Melinda Gates or Jeff Bezos, among others. Among the listed philanthropists, only one Spaniard: the president of the La Caixa Banking Foundation, Isidro Fainé. We speak with Rodriguez about philanthropy and, of course, about Forbes:

Why publish a book about philanthropy now?

That is the answer. I believe that philanthropy is far from being the same as in the Anglo-Saxon countries. We delivered the first Forbes Award to the Best Philanthropist last year, which went to Isidro Fainé and the La Caixa Foundation, but before giving this award we already identified philanthropy as one of the territories where we should have visibility. What the prize aims for, and now the book, is to put the philanthropists and philanthropy. In addition to encouraging others to be visible and do not give it away.

What criteria have you used to choose the protagonists of the book, where the only Spanish is Isidro Fainé?

We had to make a cut somewhere, and in this case, we chose the billing criteria and selected 15 people. It is true that the economic contribution of the La Caixa Foundation is light years away from others, because last year it was about 500 million euros and for this year it is 545 million.

Anyway, as I argue in a recent article the amount of money to invest is not the only scale by which we should measure philanthropy: it is a data, but it is also important, for example, what is given or how, if it is done in an inconspicuous or highly visible way and, also, where it is identified who needs it. The cut that we made was this and we also wanted to put it in value in an international context, because we want our companies to be very global and fight for the markets. However, we are not aware that philanthropy is global.

At what point is philanthropy in Spain? What challenges are you facing today?

Philanthropy is a concept more Anglo-Saxon, Calvinist and Protestant or Jewish culture. That is to say, for a long time the philanthropy with charity and, the wealth, is a concept that in the Mediterranean countries and of the south of Europe is not well seen to exhibit it. However, in the Anglo-Saxon or Arab countries it is something that is exhibited because it is identified that the person is very intelligent and has been known to move within society. and Once he makes money he hasa social obligation to return part of that money to society, because it has helped him to achieve it. All these concepts are far from having them assumed in Spain and what it is about, is to reach a point where philanthropy is communicated with such visibility that it is one of the parameters with which an entrepreneur or company is measured.

Of all the profiles included in the book, which one has surprised you the most?

Of course Isidro Fainé's, but I do have to say an American, I'm very interested in Warren Buffet who has created an association for the great American fortunes to donate at least 50% of their capital in life. They have quickly joined him Bill Gates and his wife Melinda who have one of the great foundations of the world. I believe that the philanthropist is obliged to spread his philanthropy to others and, in addition, to do it in public.

Still Philanthropy is individual and private in our country. The most logical thing is to find people who say «I give, but do not know» and that is a very serious error. You have to know. It is not easy to say, but then we must explain why it is not said.

I guess we are dealing with a cultural issue …

It is not said for several reasons: for fear of criticism because it is not well explained and is not said due to the fact that someone else does not make it known either. Many times philanthropy is being organized almost on impulse and not in a very professional way: we have no tradition or professional profiles that organize philanthropy. It is a vicious circle and, it is true, that there is not a very prone regulation from a fiscal point of view. So it is the territory to advance is tremendous and, to me, that always seems an opportunity.

Forbes Lists

The great attraction of a magazine like Forbes are its well-known lists. What is the recipe to make a good list?

The fundamental recipe is rigor, but the rest varies or changes because it is not the same measure the wealth of the dead that more bill than the list of the richest men and women from Spain. The concepts vary. In any case, the key is rigor and, secondly, the lists that do not have a mathematical measurement such as, for example, influence. That is, they have a mqualitative edition are always debatable. But the lists that have a mathematical measurement as the one referring to the richest or to the companies that give more money to philanthropy do not generate much discursión. What makes the lists very appealing is when you put people one above the other and, above all, compare one year against another.

Are there still qualms to be included in the Forbes list of the wealthiest in Spain?

Six years ago we published the list and the fear of leaving has disappeared, although there are still businessmen who do not want to appear. Being included is a consequence of its activity and this, is also linked to philanthropy. In any case, it is true that in Spain we have a prejudice: we think that a businessman who makes money is someone, who maybe has cheated to get it. Our relationship with money is complex, but now the List of the richest men and women is made in an easier way than it was at the beginning. The people who appeared on the list had all kinds of qualms.

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