July 23, 2014; Movoto

Yes, it is true. Rick Cohen is the wealthiest person in New Hampshire. 


Unfortunately, it isn’t the Rick Cohen who writes for Nonprofit Quarterly, but someone who shares the name. The other Rick Cohen owns C&S Wholesale Grocers, the largest grocery wholesaler in the world. He is worth over $11 billion, shies away from press and publicity, lives in a modest home, and is a dead ringer for Egon from Ghostbusters. Of interest to Nonprofit Quarterly readers might be the publicity-shy Cohen’s philanthropy, some of which seems to come from the Panjandrum Foundation, which is devoted to “protecting the environment, ending human rights abuses and supporting women’s issues.” (“Panjandrum” means someone who claims great authority or expertise, though often with a load of accompanying pretension.) Housed at C&S, the Panjandrum Foundation made four grants in 2012, according to its last filed Form 990PF: the Keene Family YMCA ($635,475), the American Society for Yad Vashem ($800,000), the Fritz Institute ($58,000), and the Karuna Center for Peacebuilding ($15,000).

Movoto’s list of the wealthiest person in each state of the U.S. is probably of interest for their philanthropic identities, since some, like Cohen, aren’t particularly high profile but do think of themselves as generous philanthropists. There’s no need to go into the philanthropic profiles of Arkansas’s Jim Walton, California’s Larry Ellison (from Oracle), Hawaii’s Pierre Omidyar (eBay and First Look Media), Massachusetts’s Abigail Johnson (the Fidelity Investments heiress), Nevada’s Sheldon Adelson (the Sands Casino), Nebraska’s Warren Buffett, New York’s David Koch, Kansas’s Charles Koch, Oregon’s Phil Knight (Nike), Wyoming’s Christy Walton, Utah’s John Huntsman Sr. (father of the recent Republican presidential aspirant), and a fellow from the state of Washington named Bill Gates. However, some of the more obscure ones on the list might be interesting for their philanthropy:


Marguerite Harbert ($1b)

The elderly matriarch who inherited her money from her now-deceased construction titan husband has family members with the Harbert name connected to a number of Alabama foundations, including the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, the Raymond J. and Kathryn D. Harbert Foundation, and others


Robert Gillam ($700m)

The founder of McKinley Capital Management, with an eponymous foundation providing scholarships to students studying global commerce


Bruce Halle ($4.8b)

Founder of Bruce Halle’s Discount Tire, reportedly the world’s largest independent tire and wheel retailer, the Bruce T. Halle Foundation supports the Diane Halle Center for Family Justice at Arizona State University, and the Children’s First Academy—according to Forbes, the largest school for homeless children in the nation


Charlie Ergen ($15b)

The DISH Network founder’s family foundation is called the Telluray Foundation, with $147,650 in grants on its 2011 Form 990PF, the most recent one available, with the largest grant ($20,000) to the Young Life Christian ministry


Robert Gore ($830m)

From the family that invented Gore-Tex, Gore’s philanthropy seems almost laser focused on his alma mater, the University of Delaware


Anne Cox Chambers ($16.1b)

Major owner of Cox Enterprises (the Cox Communications media conglomerate), with philanthropic interests in the arts


Frank VanderSloot ($1.2b)

Entrepreneur and rancher, known for having been a vocal Romney supporter and claiming he had been subject to repeated inappropriate IRS and DOL audits, with an eponymous foundation that gave out only two grants in 2012, to the Boy Scouts of America ($1,000) and to Brigham Young University ($10,000)

We could go on, but these random seven reflect some of the unusual philanthropic profiles of major donors. Consider Ken Griffin, the richest person in Illinois (head of the Citadel hedge fund, who with his now ex-wife was a multi-million dollar donor to the Art Institute of Chicago), Gayle Cook, the richest person in Indiana (from a catheter and stent fortune, investing in the improvement of Bloomington), and Mississippi’s Leslie Lampton (whose Ergon Foundation has a strong emphasis on education and Christianity).

Now, if that Rick Cohen guy were the Rick Cohen of Nonprofit Quarterly or even the much younger Rick Cohen of the National Council of Nonprofits, imagine the impact on nonprofits and philanthropy!—Rick Cohen