Philanthropist Offers to Match Up to $1 Million in Donations

Tony Blair, former prime minister of the United Kingdom, and Ed Satell
From left: Tony Blair, former prime minister of the United Kingdom, and Ed Satell (Courtesy of the Satell Institute)

Great cities and communities are made up of three essential elements, by Ed Satell’s accounting:

There’s the government, setting rules and regulations. There’s the business sector, creating jobs and wealth. And there are nonprofits, filling in the social gaps, and giving people a reason to stay where they are.

“You can’t have a great community if you don’t have a great nonprofit sector,” said Satell, 84, of Bala Cynwyd.

For years, Satell has put his money where his mouth is with the Satell Institute, a CEO organization that requires members to pledge donations of at least $25,000 per year to a nonprofit of their choice, for at least four years. But now, in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic that has ravaged businesses and choked off nonprofit funding, Satell has come out with a new, one-time challenge: He’s personally matching new donations made by Satell Institute members, and he’ll go up to $1 million.

He’s calling it The Satell Million Dollar Match Opportunity Through the Satell Institute.

“We all want to be a part of great communities, we all want to be a part of great cities, and everybody’s got a responsibility to help and make that work,” Satell said.

Corporations have a vested interest in such an outcome, he said, and thus, it would be only natural that they would help nonprofits — “the heroes of this society,” in Satell’s words — whenever they could.

As of May 8, the effort had attracted considerable attention from institute members, as well as from foundations, individual donors and the corporations that the CEOs belonged to. With Satell’s match, $1,775,250 has already been raised.

“It’s created more excitement than I imagined,” Satell said.

Members of the institute were sent a form with Satell’s idea, to which they responded with donations of up to $10,000, some going higher than that.

Morey Goldberg, the founder and CEO of Rose Glen Advisors, LLC, has known Satell personally and professionally for almost 30 years. Satell is “an incredible mensch,” Goldberg said, citing his dedication to supporting nonprofits and corporate social responsibility.

“What Ed has really done is he’s created a force for social improvement in the Philadelphia area,” Goldberg said. “And when he takes steps like he has done with this match, he’s become an inspiration to all of us and, I believe, because of Ed, there is greater giving in our community.” Goldberg himself made a $10,000 contribution.

Satell, a native of Springfield, Massachusetts, has long supported nonprofits.

Satell’s work has been recognized by organizations like the Greater Philadelphia Area Association of Fundraising Professionals, the Walnut Street Theatre and the University of Connecticut Business School (his alma mater), among others. He has an honorary degree from Gratz College, and two honorary degrees from The Technion Institute.

Satell has also been a generous donor to the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. He endowed the Satell Teen Fellowship for Leadership and Social Activism, which ran for 14 years in partnership with the Jewish Federation.

Lauded as he is for his personal giving, it’s the Satell Institute that’s made Satell respected among business and nonprofit leaders in the area.

The Satell Institute was founded in 2016, as Satell looked to promote his vision of free enterprise and corporate social responsibility. Focusing on “CEO-to-CEO communication,” the institute runs a nonpartisan think tank, issuing white papers, academic research and educational resources. The charitable contribution portion of the institute is run through the so-called “Do-Tank,” which matches corporations, foundations and individual CEOs with nonprofits, among other functions.

“I decided that the way to rally people is leadership by example,” Satell said.

What is maybe most exciting to Satell about the work of the Satell Institute is the breadth of issues covered by the nonprofit partners. The great joy of working with so many, he said, is not unlike the joy of having a big brood of children: All of them are loved in different ways.

For all his appreciation of the breadth of Philadelphia nonprofits, Satell believes that one does stand above the rest.

“The most important nonprofit of them all,” Satell said, “is the one your family needs.”; 215-832-0740

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