‘Question everything!’ — Wagner Magazine profiles Pat Dugan ’57 of Charity Navigator

‘Question everything!’ — Wagner Magazine profiles Pat Dugan ’57 of Charity Navigator

‘Pat Dugan ’57 has not merely given to charity,’ writes Laura Barlament in the new issue of Wagner Magazine. ’He’s given us all a gift by creating one of the most powerful watchdogs in the world of philanthropy.’

Pat Dugan (vertical)In 1969, Harlem resident Clara Hale took in her first abandoned, drug-addicted baby. That led to another, then another, until this amazing, caring woman, known to all as Mother Hale, became the leader of a major charity, Hale House. At the height of the AIDS crisis in 1985, President Reagan praised her selfless work and gave her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Thousands of people were touched by Mother Hale’s story, and millions of dollars in donations flowed in to Hale House. Some of those gifts came from Pat ’57 and Marion Dugan, successful business owners in the New York City metropolitan area. Having lost their first-born son at age 13 to a terrible, wasting genetic disease, they had bigger hearts than most for helping suffering children.

In 1992, Mother Hale died, and her daughter, Dr. Lorraine Hale, took over the organization. Dr. Hale seemed like the perfect person to continue her mother’s legacy, and the donations continued to flow in. The Dugans remained faithful to Hale House, and because their financial circumstances had dramatically changed when Pat’s business went public in 1998, they were in a position to do a lot more.

“I became, to be crass, richer by far than I’d ever been, and I wanted to do something to pay back,” Pat says. “I’d always been interested in charitable stuff, but just didn’t have that much in the way of resources. Because of the public offering, my company doubled in value overnight. This was something that I benefited greatly from, and I wanted to do something with it.”

In 2001, however, Lorraine Hale was fired from Hale House. The New York Daily News broke the story: The children were being neglected and kept in prison-like conditions, while Dr. Hale collected art, built a luxurious office suite, and borrowed funds donated for the children to renovate her own home.

Pat and Marion started looking more closely at Hale House and other scandal-plagued organizations, such as the United Way of America and Covenant House in New York City.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my money,” Pat says, “but I knew I didn’t want to throw it down the rat hole.”

Pat could have hired his own personal advisors to help him find good, reliable, well-run charities. But Pat isn’t known as a visionary for nothing. And he didn’t forget that many other people had been duped by unscrupulous charities. Most people give based on emotions; Pat wanted people to be able to give based on facts.

Pat, in other words, had discovered his own cause: Giving everyday donors information, so they can make smart giving decisions. Today, that data is available to anyone, for free, through the Charity Navigator website.

For the rest of the story, visit the Wagner Magazine website.