For several years Dick DeVos has been asked by Forbes magazine to offer specifics about the philanthropy of his family. To encourage others to do the same Dick DeVos recently gave Forbes answers to their questions. In the interview, Dick DeVos provided figures for the family’s lifetime donations and 2014 in particular. In 2014 the combined charitable contributions for the DeVos family were more than $94 million and the total lifetime giving was listed at $1.2 billion. This extraordinary amount of philanthropy has placed the DeVos family at number 20 on the Forbes annual list of the top 50 givers.
Because the rankings do not break down exactly where the money goes, The Grand Rapids Press working with MLive have compiled figures based on the 2013 IRS tax records. The bulk of the money went to organizations in Michigan, where the DeVos family make their home and are known for their support of local organizations, especially in the Grand Rapids area. The family total for 2013 was $90.9 million, with almost 50 percent of that going to education. Health and community services received 27 percent, churches or faith-based organizations 13 percent and arts and culture 12 percent.
The DeVos’ family are well known for their support of conservative issues and part of the money listed as community services included over $1 million in donations to conservative organizations such as The Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute. The DeVos family support five different family foundations, but they work together to target their giving, again, mainly in West Michigan. For example, in the last five years, the Doug and Maria DeVos’ foundation has donated over $2.6 million to public schools in the Grand Rapids area.
Dick DeVos is the oldest son of Amway co-founder Richard DeVos. He was born in 1955, grew up in Michigan and graduated from Northwood University. He started his years at Amway in 1974 and held many different positions, eventually serving as President of Amway from 1993 to 2002. During his years at Amway he oversaw operations in 50 countries and six continents, the company reported sales of $4.5 billion in his last year as company president. The family bought the Orlando Magic basketball team in 1991, and Dick DeVos served as the CEO of the team for three years. He currently serves as President of The Windquest Group, a private equity investment firm based in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
While his business career has been very rewarding, his personal life is equally exciting. Dick DeVos has been interested in politics for most of his life, prompting him to run for governor of Michigan in 2006, a contest he eventually lost to Democrat Jennifer Granholm. Dick DeVos is an accomplished pilot, licensed to fly both fixed wing aircraft and helicopters and the founder of the West Michigan Aviation Academy. He is married to Betsy DeVos, the current Secretary of Education for over 35 years.