Meet the Former Real-Estate Mogul Running the Charity
Last fall, a new face appeared on Beast Philanthropy’s YouTube channel, which has 8.6 million subscribers and chronicles the philanthropy of YouTube’s highest-earning star, MrBeast.
in the video, “help hurricane survivors,Darren Margulias, a short bearded 53-year-old, travels to New Orleans to help residents whose homes were destroyed by Hurricane Ida.
He’s uncomfortable in front of the camera, trying to scream like MrBeast with a South African accent, and sometimes even peeking at the screen with a miserable expression. But there are also moments of quiet echo. At one point in the video, Margolias offered a woman $5,000 to help rebuild her home, his voice breaking into tears.
“I’ve never been a person who seeks the spotlight, and I don’t think I’m good in front of a camera,” Margolias told Insider, describing his on-screen face as a “sad face resting.” (Mr. Beast, whose real name is Jimmy Donaldson, is sold out charitable goods Sticker on this face for $27.)
Off-camera, Margolias has served as CEO of Beast Philanthropy, Donaldson’s nonprofit, since its launch in October 2020. He wears many hats: managing staff and overseeing finances, finding and implementing interesting projects, negotiating with charities and partner donors.
The organization primarily focuses on distributing food from food banks, retailers, and donors to underserved areas around Donaldson’s hometown of Greenville, North Carolina. According to Beast Philanthropy, she’s donated $7 million worth of food so far.
But she has ambitions far beyond Grenfell, and responsible for that is Margolias, a man who didn’t even know who Donaldson was two years ago.
“Is this just a stunt?”: How Margolias met MrBeast
Margolias lives an austere life. He said he resides in a modest Greenville apartment with three cats, works 100 hours a week, and donates his entire salary to the organization after taxes.
“I can’t do this if I have a family or a girlfriend,” he said. “But this is not an opportunity that comes more than once in a lifetime.”
His career wasn’t always about giving back. Margolias used to work in real estate development with his father, who immigrated from Johannesburg to Atlanta in the 1980s. They handled sales of over $450 million, according to him old site.
But it was stressful — an expensive building in Florida was hit by a hurricane in 2005 — and it didn’t deliver, he told Insider. When the economy collapsed in 2008, Margolias liquidated his portfolio of stocks.
“There was no amount of money I could have that would make me as happy as real estate would make me miserable,” he said.
After amassing a nest egg worth “a few million dollars,” he entered semi-retirement in 2012 to focus on an animal shelter he had founded in Atlanta called Furkids. (He did not respond to a request for proof of his real estate earnings.)
Then, six years ago, skydiving Margolias met someone on Team Beast on a skydiving trip in Raleigh, a stone’s throw from MrBeast home base.
Years later, he was approached by the CEO, whom Margolias declined to name, for a video titled “I adopted every dog in a dog house(Margolias said Donaldson prefers not to reveal the names of the employees for fear of poaching by competitors.)
In July 2020, Margolias flew to Greenville to discuss filming. He was surprised when a YouTuber asked him to run his fledgling charity the same night they met.
Margolias was well versed in animal rescue but did not have an iota of experience running a food bank. Still, Donaldson loved his story. Margolias said he’s been trying for years to find the right partner to launch his charity, and he’s been looking for someone who can think outside the box.
“Like anyone,” he said, “I was skeptical.” “Is this just a stunt? Is he doing it for the wrong reasons? But through our conversations and the way he answered my questions, I realized Jimmy was real.”
From Greenville to the world, Beast Philanthropy has big ambitions
Other than supporting food insecurity in the Greenville area, Beast Philanthropy focuses on supporting other nonprofit organizations.
This month, for example, it awarded a $250,000 grant to Evan Eilers, founder of Sharing Excess in Philadelphia, which created an app to “rescue” food that would otherwise be wasted and distribute it to those in need.
There are also global ambitions. Recent videos on the Beast Philanthropy channel — which funnels all advertising revenue to the nonprofit — record the construction of wells in Cameroon and $3 million in aid given to Ukrainian refugees. For these projects, Beast Philanthropy collaborates with local organizations on the ground, including the Cameroonian non-profit CDTVA and refugee centers in Eastern Europe, respectively.
“We spend a lot of time scrutinizing and talking to other organizations and finding people who have the right motivations,” Margolias said.
Next, the organization finalizes its plans to rebuild an orphanage in South Africa, where it recently hired a staff member.
While not all projects are taped to Beast Philanthropy’s YouTube channel, Margolias believes Donaldson’s ability to go viral for hundreds of millions of young fans is more impactful than any individual project.
He said the organization regularly receives emails about kids taking food to the homeless on the weekend or donating their birthday checks to Beast Philanthropy.
And as long as viewers and Donaldson will have him, he will continue to appear on camera – albeit reluctantly – to serve the greater mission.
None of this is about me, said Margolias. “Jimmy could do this without me. I couldn’t do it without Jimmy.”