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Business of Giving: You Wanna Be Like Paul Newman?

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Actor, race-car driver, philanthropist is model for us all.

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When Paul Newman passed away at the age of 83, my mind first went to the many iconic roles he created on the silver screen: Cool Hand Luke, say, or Butch Cassidy. And I was impressed when he became a race car driver in his late 40s. But what I admired most was his core set of values, so well articulated during a speech given at UC Berkeley 8 years ago: "It seems so human to hold your hand out to people less fortunate than you are."

Yes. So human and so simple.

Newman always made it look easy: From its inception in 1983, his company, Newman's Own, has donated all profits to charity. Twenty-five years later, and now selling everything from popcorn to pasta sauce to organic snacks, Newman's Own has donated $250 million to charities worldwide. The project nearest to his heart was the Hole in the Wall Camps, which make it possible for seriously ill children to have some seriously normal summertime fun.

But here's what's truly fantastic: He didn't stop there. Newman didn't want to be the only CEO giving away his profits. Ten years ago, he co-founded the Committee to Encourage Corporate Philanthropy (CECP). What started with 10 CEOs brainstorming innovative ideas for philanthropy has blossomed into a powerful organization comprising 175 members from 150 of the nation's leading companies. JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Gap (GPS), Citigroup (C), GMAC Financial Services (GJM) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) are just a few of the proud members whom we know to be generous philanthropists.

Newman and the other founders wanted to create a forum where CEOs could have a peer-to-peer exchange on the issue of corporate philanthropy. Lindsay Siegel, associate director of CECP, tells me that members are always talking about innovative ways they can give back. After all, charitable giving can be more than just signing a check. Sharing expertise and resources with nonprofit groups can be just as vital.
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