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How Rock Legend Bon Jovi Hits The Right Note With Philanthropy 23 September 2012
Forbes article

Source: Forbes

Jon Bon Jovi is unique in many ways among mega-star entertainers, including in his personal life and in the constantly improving quality of his already impressive music. But he is also positively different in his approach to philanthropy. We are all too familiar with cultural icons whose names and resources are misused or hijacked by others. As his career progressed, Bon Jovi knew he wanted to do more in the area of philanthropy but was wise enough to realize this would require considerable time and effort, that there was more to effective philanthropy than simply good feelings and intentions. That’s why, for instance, he visited countless homeless shelters and food kitchens to see what works and what doesn’t. He has been careful with whom he partners in his charitable undertakings, because in business, as in every other area, judgment on personnel is critical.

As we learned at our inaugural Forbes 400 Summit On Philanthropy, Bon Jovi recognized another sometimes overlooked facet – that the best charitable work involves reciprocity. You don’t just give a handout. The recipient of your help must be more than a passive participant. Thus for his “purpose restaurant” Soul Kitchen, which feeds people down on their luck, Bon Jovi incorporated a new twist that he and his wife, Dorothea, first heard about on a news broadcast. Soul Kitchen is a first-rate eatery, with fine linens and silver, yet it serves not only traditional customers but also those down on their luck. Traditional customers make a nice contribution; there are no prices on the menu. Those who need a meal volunteer their services by either working in the restaurant or helping out with some other charitable endeavor. As Bon Jovi puts it, “We are trying to empower people. They feel a part of something. I am not about entitlements.”


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