Donor Dossier: The Philanthropy of Carlyle Cofounder Daniel A. D'Aniello

We've written about Carlyle Group cofounder and chairman Daniel D'Aniello before. He's made his billions at the helm of the private equity firm which recently boasted $200 billion in assets. Last year, D'Aniello gave $20 million toward the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he currently serves as vice chair. D'Aniello is among several billionaires who've put huge sums behind AEI, including Philip Anschutz, Bruce Kovner, Paul Singer, and George Roberts. 

Related: Which Washington Think Tank Do Billionaires Love the Most? And Why?

But despite this recent headlining gift, that's not all D'Aniello is into. His dedication to AEI can be explained in part by a unique personal story, which has informed the rest of his philanthropy. D'Aniello grew up in an Italian Catholic family in Western Pennsylvania's steel country and was raised by his mother and grandmother. His mother worked many jobs in order to make ends meet. D'Aniello punched his ticket to Syracuse on a scholarship, attended Harvard Business School, and the rest is history.

He credits freedom, opportunity, and enterprise to his success, which of course intersects with AEI quite nicely. But this has also led D'Aniello to place a high value on education. He's given millions to his alma mater, Syracuse, though the true scope of his giving in this area and in others might not be known because D'Aniello has often been very private.

What we do know is that he's supported scholarships at the school and also helped set up the D'Aniello Entrepreneurial Internships, which provide entrepreneurial opportunities to top undergraduate and graduate students at the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse. D'Aniello has said that he wants to “provide that foundation for others who are at the stage I was when I was in college."

D'Aniello was recently appointed chair of the Wolf Trap Foundation, which supports the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, a performing arts center located on national park land in Virginia, in close proximity to where the D'Aniellos live. D'Aniello and his wife Gayle recently supported a Wolf Trap fundraiser with $50,000, and have supported the Washington National Opera. An element of this philanthropy also might be traced to D'Aniello's formative years. One of the many jobs D'Aniello mother worked was as pianist and church organist.

D’Aniello, like his business partner William Conway Jr., has also been a strong supporter of the Catholic church, giving $4 million to expand a local seminary. And he's a close friend of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who also grew up in western Pennsylvania.

As for what D'Aniello will support going forward, D'Aniello has said he has “five pillars” of philanthropy: faith-based giving, educational programs, free enterprise, the performing arts, and mental health research.

It's also worth noting that D'Aniello created a foundation with his wife Gayle called the D'Aniello Family Foundation. According to the tax records we have available, it held nearly $44 million in assets in 2013, but only made one grant that year of $25,000 to the Bronx-Lebanon New Directions Fund which supports the Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center. Some gifts, though, haven't gone through the foundation. For example, D'Aniello also wrote a five-figure check to the Center for Excellence in Education in 2013.

The good news for grantseekers is that D'Aniello appears to be stepping into the spotlight a bit more. D'Aniello hasn't signed the Giving Pledge like Rubenstein, and says he doesn't plan to. But fear not. D'Aniello believes a minimum 50 percent commitment isn't enough: "If you're only going to give away 50 percent of your wealth... c'mon, I'm going to do much more than that."

Surely that's music to the hears to the folks at AEI. But plenty of institutions are likely to see D'Aniello gifts down the line; if not sooner, than certainly later. 

Whether through the Giving Pledge or not, then, it looks like all three billionaire Carlyle Group founders are set to give away the majority of their wealth to philanthropy. Keep an eye on these guys.

Related: Daniel D'Aniello IP Profile