Untours’ founders, Hal and Norma Taussig, walked to the beat of a different drummer.
Several decades ago, Hal (1924 – 2016) decided that he did not want to accumulate wealth. This decision included a resolution to try to be a responsible steward, using his financial resources to promote social and economic justice. His first attempt to share his wealth was when he refunded an entire year’s profits to surprised clients. Many clients thought he was crazy, but everyone cashed their checks!
He then turned to a quite different approach, one which lasted a decade. He began paying everyone the same monthly wage, and at the end of each year, divided all profits equally between his employees – including himself and Norma. Grousing from some employees with seniority became an increasing problem with this egalitarian approach.
Hal then created the Untours Foundation in 1992, and since that time, practically all of the tour company’s after-tax profits have gone to the foundation.
Norma Taussig (2023 – 2015), Hal’s wife and the co-owner of Untours, strongly supported these developments, often leading the way. Like Hal, she believed in “change, not charity,” especially as this concept applied to funding small inner-city businesses that created lasting change and could be duplicated by others.
Norma and Hal lived a simple life in their small home hanging their clothes on a line, composting their food scraps, and loving to shoehorn the Untours staff into their home for parties!
Ben Cohen, Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream