Ron Bruder, 64, is an entrepreneur who founded the Brookhill Group, a US commercial property developer, in 1977. After the attacks of September 11 2001, he also established Education for Employment (www.efefoundation.org) to provide professional and vocational training programmes for unemployed and disadvantaged young people in the Middle East and north Africa. Since 2006, his foundation has placed 2,300 people in work, with a further 5,000 projected for 2012.
How did your upbringing affect your views on charity?
I grew up in a blue-collar area of Brooklyn. My grandfather was a man of great generosity who helped a lot of people to escape the Holocaust in Europe. He was a role model and was one of the happiest people I ever met. He showed me the relationship between sharing money and happiness.
What cause is closest to you now?
Education for Employment (EFE). In 2006 I disengaged from other activities that I was involved in to focus all my resources, financial and operational, on EFE. In terms of time spent, I start at eight in the morning and end with a dinner at about 10pm. And, with travelling, it takes up most of my life. It’s much more than I planned on but I really enjoy the work. It’s exciting, it’s meaningful, it’s exhausting.
What can charities learn from the business sector?
I think the business sector can teach charities to effectively monitor and evaluate the impact of their work. I see my charity, my philanthropy, my foundation as a business: I’ve invested the past seven years of my life and a lot of my net worth into it and want to know I’m getting the desired result.
What do you get out of your giving?
It gives a meaning to my existence that just making money didn’t. I initially needed to pay off credit cards and student loans, then provide for children, family, parents, and so on.
That was good but this is much more exciting. In my for-profit days, everything was about how much money could be made. What really does it for me is when I go to a graduation and see young men and women whose lives have been totally changed through being taught how to work.
Which other charities do you admire?
I admire the MasterCard Foundation (www.mastercardfdn.org), which works to offer microfinance and education opportunities around the world, with a focus on long-term impact and learning.
I also look at the work and charitable giving that Manpower Group does in its corporate/non-profit partnerships. It’s very philanthropic but also really hard-working and smart and I admire that.