In Michigan, if your name is Dick DeVos that name carries a lot of influence and clout with it. But the clout and influence have little to do with your monetary wealth which according to many sources is in excess of 5 Billion dollars, no it’s mainly because of how much of his money he gives away to various causes and charities he is interested in supporting every year. Their giving for the longest time used to be fairly secretive, now, for the first time, the DeVos family is actually shedding some light on their giving practices, which actually runs throughout the whole family. This giving has all been made public in a Forbes Magazine issue on family foundations. In this issue, The DeVos family revealed that it has given over 1.2 Billion dollars in its lifetime and over 94 Million Dollars in 2014 alone ranking the DeVos family 20th of the top 50 families named as America’s top givers. One of the issues that is close to this family’s heart is supporting conservative political issues and conservative candidates seeking office. Even though the article does not cover money given to political candidates it does include money given to conservative think tanks and similar institutions.
Two organizations in Michigan, however, MLive and The Grand Rapids press have compiled even more detailed information on their giving arrangements. They were able to do this using DeVos family income tax records from 2013. The Devos family donated, in total, 91 million dollars in 2013 with almost half of it being given to education causes, 27 percent to community projects and health organizations, 13 percent to churches and faith-based causes, and 23 percent to the arts. This is new for the Devos family because in the past they have instructed all of the organizations they have given money to not to discuss the gifts with anyone. The access to this information has, however, revealed some of the strategies in their giving practices. The family’s giving leverages additional donations from DeVos family friends and business associates, the DeVos Foundations also provide strategic advice to institutions receiving their money, they also extend their influence on giving through their service on various boards and other business connections.
Rich DeVos and his family have long been supporters of Christian nonprofits that provide services to the city’s poorest residents. They have also been one of the biggest contributors to the DeVos Institute for the Arts Management at the University of Maryland. They have not only helped the university personally but have also been instrumental in helping to get others to raise millions to expand the University’s campus. This has only been achieved because as a master salesman and public speaker Rich DeVos has the leadership and influence to pull others into the projects he is passionate about.