The Power of Philanthropy: A case study with James Dondero

Philanthropy and business

Philanthropy and business have always been a positive mix.  They say the more people you can help, the more you help yourself.  Not only does philanthropy make a positive impact on the world, but it also aids in positive corporate image and marketing.  James Dondero and Highland Capital present a perfect case study for us with their philanthropy missions.



If you’re not already familiar with Highland Capital Management, it is a Texas-based firm known for expertly managing investment funds.  Mostly structured investments/hedge funds. Founded in 1993, Highland Capital has over $20 million in assets and is led by a team of enterprising businessmen including Co-founder James Dondero.  If you have been following business news, you may have heard that this immensely successful firm has donated generously to Engage at the Bush Center, an offshoot of the George W. Bush Institute. According to the firm’s website, Highland Capital Management gifted $10 million dollars to support the center’s various initiatives and projects.




If you’re not familiar with the Engage at the Bush Center, it is a military service initiative aimed at helping post 9/11 veterans receive the comprehensive care they need.  This can include mental health services, respite care, health care insurance, and much more. It is important to note that this is not the first pledge of support from Highland Capital; the firm has been a proud benefactor in philanthropy since 2012 when they contributed $5 million dollars to the Bush Center.


In a article, Co-founder and President of Highland Capital, James Dondero explains the driving force behind donating so generously to the Bush Center. He states that the center’s mission and overall influence aligns perfectly with that of Highland Capital.  Which is to make a positive impact on the community.


To further contextualize this statement, Dondero points to events held by the Busch Center that have contributed to the betterment of society.  Namely the Eager Series, which is an event that encourages dialogue in the face of pressing policy issues.




Dondero is a businessman who began his professional journey by attending the University of Virginia Mcintire School Of Commerce, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and Finance, in 1984, before beginning his career with American Express, working in the company’s Guaranteed Investment Certificate division. By 1989, Dondero had his sights set on broadening his career horizon, which led to a role that would allow him to showcase his leadership abilities.


His career ambitions ultimately led him to Protective Life Insurance, where he worked in the company’s Guaranteed Investment Certificate department. While with Protective Life Insurance, Dondero was lauded for his efforts in helping to scale the business from a humble startup to a company with a valuation of $2 billion dollars. As far as his talents in the financial sector are concerned, Dondero has well over 30 years of experience working with leveraged bank accounts, high-yield bonds, and preferred stocks.


With regard to his philanthropic endeavors, Dondero has always been a proponent of helping others, organizations and businesses alike. In addition to the generous endowment given to Engage at the Bush Center, Dondero and Highland Capital donated an astonishing $1 million dollars to the Dallas Zoo to help build an enclosure for their animals.

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