Domino's founder Tom Monaghan pledges half of his fortune to charity
File photo | AnnArbor.com
Tom Monaghan, the founder of Ann Arbor-based Domino's Pizza who now focuses his time on Catholic philanthropy, is officially pledging to give away at least half his fortune.
Monaghan signed the "Giving Pledge," a campaign by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, his wife Melinda Gates and investor Warren Buffett to convince the nation's extremely rich people to donate at least half of their wealth to philanthropic causes before or after their deaths.
Monaghan's net worth today is unclear. BusinessWeek estimated in 2005 that he had $500 million in assets but had already distributed or pledged to give away $451 million.
"I came into the world penniless and as a Catholic Christian, I know
that I cannot take any of it with me, so it has long been my desire to
use the material resources that I have been blessed with to help others
in the most meaningful ways possible," Monaghan wrote in a letter
explaining his pledge.
"I am very grateful not only for the resources that I have been blessed with, but the opportunity to use these resources to help others in the best way I know how."
Since selling his homegrown global pizza delivery chain in 1998, Monaghan has focused his time almost exclusively on his efforts to spread Catholicism through education. In 2009, his Ave Maria School of Law moved from Ann Arbor to Naples, Fla. to be located near Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, Fla.
Monaghan indicated in his letter that he plans to focus most of his donations on his Catholic education initiatives. He wrote:
After selling Domino’s, I created a number of priorities that would guide my giving. However, I soon concluded that I needed to focus these priorities even more (as my resources were finite), and I eventually concluded that the most important thing I believed I could do with the resources that I had been blessed with was to help build quality, faithful Catholic education.
A number of years before, I had started supporting Catholic education by getting involved with grade schools, and this was great, but building schools was expensive. I realized that to have a more global impact, I would need to focus on Catholic higher education - to train the teachers, the principals, the future Catholic university and seminary professors.
So, from my experience of sitting on numerous college and university boards and the expertise of some well respected Catholic academics, we set out on a journey to establish Ave Maria University and Ave Maria School of Law.
Since that time, I have not only committed my personal assets to these institutions, but they have become my life’s work, as I am now going around the country raising money for them.
The pledge is consistent with Monaghan's long-standing aim to "die broke," as the Detroit Free Press put it in 1998.
In 2008, Monaghan told Ann Arbor Business Review he wanted to "help as many people as possible, particularly through the university, which I hope will be a beacon and a model for other Catholic universities. By and large, most of them are in financial straits - and they're afraid to be too religious."
Monaghan now lives in Florida but occasionally travels back to the Ann Arbor area, where his legacy is still visible. He was responsible for the construction of the nearly 1 million-square-foot Frank Lloyd Wright-style Domino's Farms Office Park visible from US-23 in Ann Arbor Township.
But his agenda has also led him to spar with some in the Ann Arbor region
over the years.
As recently as 2008, asked how he hopes to be remembered in Ann Arbor, he told Business Review, "I don't think I really think about it or really care."