Wealthy Donors’ Advisers Help Align Their Bosses’ Giving and Values
Chr istine tayl or
Current philanthropy role: Vice
president for corporate communications at MacAndrews & Forbes
Holdings and philanthropic adviser
to the company’s leader, Ronald O.
© PATRICK MCMULLAN. COM
After many years vetting charities
for Ronald O. Perelman (right),
Christine Taylor (left) says she’s
achieved a “mind meld” of sorts
with the billionaire, anticipating
what causes he wants to support.
Previous job: Worked in corporate
communications at Bloomberg Inc.
Mar ger y taba nkin
Current philanthropy role: Founded a Santa Monica, Calif., firm to
advise Steven Spielberg, Barbra
Streisand, and other wealthy donors on their giving
PANORAMIC v Is IONs
Margery Tabankin (left), has
spent 25 years advising Barbra
Streisand on her philanthropic
early jobs: Trained as a community
organizer, she headed the Youth
Project, which raised money for
charities serving young people
Personal Introductions Hold Key
o ther experience: Led Volunteers
in Service to America, or VISTA,
during the Carter administration
to Seeking a Billionaire’s Support
By Maureen West
IF YOU WORK FOR A CHARITY and cross paths with Ronald O. Perelman in Manhattan, you might be tempted
to let him know about your exciting programs.
With a net worth that Forbes estimates to be $12-billion from his role as
chairman of the cosmetics giant Revlon and many other business deals, Mr.
Perelman might make a tempting audience for an elevator speech.
Chances are, however, he will politely
say, “It sounds terrific, but you really
should talk to Chris at my office about
Christine Taylor, 56, is senior vice
president for corporate communica-
tions for Mr. Perelman’s flagship com-
pany, MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings.
On the side, she oversees his philan-
thropy—which totals more than $200-
million over just the past decade. Ms.
Taylor has personally vetted and man-
aged many of the gifts.
Mr. Perelman has no formal process
for submitting or reviewing grant proposals, but he does limit his giving to
four causes: health, education, the arts,
and Jewish charities. Ms. Taylor’s job is
to delicately handle the many requests
and to dig into the ones with potential.
“The ultimate decision maker is Ron-
ald—it is his money,” she stresses. “But
I can take an hour meeting with some-
one or a five-page proposal and distill it
for him into five bullet points.”
To get one of those meetings, Ms.
Taylor says, it helps to be a friend or
associate of Mr. Perelman’s. And, she
says, “introductions are important if
you don’t know him.”
By itself, a compelling mission isn’t
enough to gain support, she says.
Streisand’s Adviser Shares Star’s Interest
in Women’s and Progressive Causes
ly made a $5-million gift in 2008, and
now hospital officials plan to name the
center after her.
“The difficult thing about
being in my position is you
sometimes have to tell
people you aren’t willing
to even listen.”
is not within our four buckets [of philanthropic interest], and we don’t know
them, they won’t get in. I do not want to
waste anyone’s time and energy.”
Ms. Taylor learned about philanthropy while doing corporate communications for Bloomberg Inc., working closely with Patricia Harris, who was to the
billionaire Michael R. Bloomberg, now
New York’s mayor, what Ms. Taylor is
to Mr. Perelman. Ms. Taylor still calls
for advice from Ms. Harris, who is now
a deputy mayor and still manages the
mayor’s philanthropy as chief executive
of the Bloomberg Family Foundation.
“She is [Mr.] Bloomberg’s most trust-
Continued on Page 22
By Maureen West
WHEN Barbra Streisand isn’t on a movie set, in a record- ing studio, or out on tour, she
and Margery Tabankin talk almost every day. For the past 25 years, Ms. Tabankin has advised Ms. Streisand on
her philanthropy, resulting in a total
of $25-million that the entertainer has
given to charitable causes.
Women’s health has been a major focus for their efforts during the past five
The two became outraged in 2007
when they started researching women’s health issues and discovered that
more women die of heart disease than
all cancers combined and that heart ailments are frequently misdiagnosed in
“It made Barbra nuts when she realized that 50 years of the medical research used for treating women was actually done on male patients,” Ms. Tabankin says.
As a result of their conversations and
working with hospital officials over the
years, Ms. Streisand this spring will
announce that she has committed to
raise $15-million for the women’s heart
center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s
Heart Institute in Los Angeles—
including a donation she will make from her
own fortune. The entertainer previous-
‘Rewarding and Fun’
The women’s business relationship
has turned into a friendship over the
years, in part because they share the
same values, says Ms. Tabankin, 64,
who has been executive director of The
Streisand Foundation since 1987.
Ms. Streisand also describes their re-
lationship that way, saying, “Our many
years of working together have been
meaningful, rewarding, and fun.”
Ms. Tabankin is smart, strategic, and
deeply compassionate, Ms. Streisand
wrote in an e-mail.
“She has helped to connect me with
organizations that work effectively in
the areas that I care about,” Ms. Streisand wrote. “She leverages my interests
while respecting my privacy.”
Ms. Tabankin, a student activist in
the late 1960s at the University of Wisconsin, now considers herself a philanthropic activist. Ms. Streisand’s civic
interests are also her own: AIDS, children, civil rights, the environment, and
Most of the daily calls from Ms. Strei-
Continued on Page 23