Wall Street Wants to Help You Help Your Favorite Charity

Protestors take part in the Occupy Wall Street protest in New York on Friday September 30, 2011.  (Damon Dahlen, AOL)
Damon Dahlen, AOL

Last month, I sat down with my kids to watch that staple of holiday stop-motion specials, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." One of my favorite parts is when Rudolph and Hermey, Santa's shy elf who dreams of becoming a dentist, visit the Island of Misfit Toys, where outcast toys like a water pistol that shoots jelly and a cowboy who rides an ostrich have been exiled.

A couple of years ago, another group of misfits, rejects and malcontents that went by the name Occupy Wall Street garnered the national spotlight with their accusations of greed run amok in America's financial community.
%VIRTUAL-pullquote-The remnants of Occupy Wall Street would do well to take a lesson from their bête noire ...%
Despite the opportunity of a lifetime, these lovable losers -- who really weren't that lovable, or clean or articulate -- squandered their moment in the sun by performing endless drum circles instead of affecting real change. The only legacy they left was the tab to clean up their mess, which ran into the millions, and was picked up by you and me, the taxpayers.

Meanwhile, the Fat Cats of Wall Street whom they railed against have continued to quietly give back to society. A case in point is the Robin Hood Foundation, a charity started by legendary hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones.

Since its founding in 1988, Jones' foundation has distributed more than $1.25 billion to programs that help the neediest segments of New York's population. All administrative costs for the organization are paid for by its board of directors, which means 100 percent of the donations it receives go directly toward helping people.
By the way, Robin Hood's board runs the gamut politically, with heavy hitters from the left such as Miramax founder Harvey Weinstein, and from the right, such as hedge fund star David Einhorn.

Another relatively new charitable organization, Portfolios With Purpose, is also getting backing from some of the brightest minds and best investors on Wall Street, and is giving the public the ability to participate, as well.

Its concept is simple: First you create a "fantasy" portfolio composed of five stocks -- long or short -- with a $1 billion minimum market cap. Then you choose a charity from its pre-vetted list that you want to compete on behalf of. There are hundreds of charities to chose from, including the Wounded Warrior Project, the Alzheimer's Foundation and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

There are two categories in which the public can compete: "novice," which requires a $100 donation, and "professional," which requires a $1,000 donation. There's also an invitation-only "master" category, which requires a $10,000 donation and is a veritable "Who's Who" of Wall Street, with participants such as Einhorn, Leon Cooperman, Daniel Loeb, Karen Finerman and Kyle Bass.

%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%The contest is now under way and runs through the end of the year. The top three winners in each category will have a portion of the total entry fees donated to their chosen charity. The winners in both of the public categories also get the opportunity to attend a private lunch with the Master Class player of their choice, and all participants are invited to the organization's networking events, where select professionals share their market views.

The remnants of Occupy Wall Street would do well to take a lesson from their bête noire as to how to create something like Portfolios With Purpose, which is both interesting and educational, engages the public, and actually does something good for people.

No man is an island, or even a peninsula, so I encourage you to give me your feedback in the comments below. I also want to hear what else you'd like me to write about, so please let me know either by connecting with me on Twitter, or via email.