David Lawrence Geffen, a Hollywood mogul and major donor to Democratic Party politicians and liberal causes, established the David Geffen Foundation for his charitable philanthropy in 1987.
Geffen fully funds the foundation, which focuses primarily on public health, education, arts and culture, LGBT issues and the Los Angeles community.
Geffen was born on Feb. 21, 1943 in Brooklyn and became a talent agent after dropping out of college. In 1970, after being unable to get a record deal for Jackson Browne, he founded Asylum Records with Elliot Roberts. 
He later founded Geffen Records, which published recordings by Cher, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Elton John, Donna Summer, and Guns ‘N’ Roses. Music Corporation of America (MCA) bought Geffen Records for $550 million in 1990. 
Geffen holds a notable art collection.Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles curator Paul Schimmel said, “There’s no collection that has a better representation of post-war American art than David Geffen’s.” 
Geffen has a net worth of $7.9 billion as of February 2019. Forbes has called him “Hollywood’s richest man,” ranking him number 56 on its “Forbes 400” list as of 2019. He also owns some of the most expensive condominiums in New York. 
In the 1990s, Geffen was one of the biggest fundraisers for President Bill Clinton’s Presidential campaigns. Gaffe is credited with raising about $18 million; Clinton granted Geffen two stays in the Lincoln Bedroom at the White House.  
Geffen had what became a public falling out with President Clinton in January 2001. Geffen lobbied for a pardon of Leonard Peltier, who was convicted (Geffen asserts wrongly) of the murder of two FBI agents in 1975. Clinton had made a number of controversial pardons on his last days in office, most prominently of Marc Rich. 
During the competitive 2008 Democratic presidential primary, Geffen threw his support, vast wealth and fundraising network behind then-Senator Barack Obama instead of then-Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), hosting a $1.3 million fundraiser for Obama in February 2007. 
Geffen is openly gay, and his foundation has contributed to a number of LGBT-interest organizations.  The Geffen Foundation is one of the biggest donors to the American Foundation for Equal Rights, an LGBT interest organization that conducted litigation to secure marriage rights for same-sex couples.  Geffen contributed to the Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund in the campaign against Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot initiative when Californians voted to define marriage as between one man and one woman. 
The foundation has also contributed to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonprofit associated with Clinton-family operative David Brock that regularly engages in politicized litigation and advocacy against Republican politicians and conservative organizations. 
Other Foundation Activities
The David Geffen Foundation focuses most of its grantmaking on the Los Angeles area, funding health clinics, theaters, museums, and charities for the homeless in the area. It also supported the New York Public Library and the New York Landmarks Conservancy. 
The David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California Los Angeles came about as a result of the billionaire’s $200 million to UCLA in 2002, the largest donation in the medical school’s history. He donated another $100 million a decade later. 
The Geffen Foundation has also provided financial support for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, as well as numerous smaller donations to organizations that focus on AIDS and cancer research in the Los Angeles area. 
In 1995, the foundation contributed $5 million to UCLA’s Westwood Playhouse, which similar to the medical school, was renamed: the Geffen Playhouse. Another $150 million in 2017 went to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art—the largest gift in that museum’s history. 
In 2015, the Lincoln Center in New York announced it was renaming Avery Fisher Hall—the home of the New York Philharmonic to David Geffen Hall, after the foundation made a $100 million donation to refurbish its five-decade-old building. His group further gave $100 million to the Museum of Modern Art in Los Angeles. 
The Geffen Foundation also funded Rob Reiner’s education nonprofit Parents Action for Children that advocates for early childhood development and school readiness and contributed to Read it LOUD, a literacy campaign asking adults to read 10 minutes per day to children. Geffen has also donated to two historically black colleges in Atlanta, Morehouse College and Spelman College. 
In September 2015, the foundation sold two paintings to billionaire hedge fund investor Ken Griffin for $500 million, in one of the largest contemporary art deals. 
Dallas Dishman has been the executive director of the foundation since 2002, overseeing domestic grants for health care, HIV/AIDS, social-liberal activism, arts and culture, and Jewish community organizations. Dishman also coordinates information-technology and telecommunications services, according to his LinkedIn profile.