Hal Taussig is an extraordinary Christian businessman, founder of the travel agency Untours and benevolent leader in the fight against poverty. Started in the mid 1970s, Untours grew it into a very profitable and productive business. Today, all of his company’s profits, totaling millions, is donated to help low income people. The Taussigs have given away $5 million in profits over the past 15 years to the Untours Foundation which loans money to low-income people trying to start new businesses or improve their lives. “My idea is to get capital to poor people rather than charity,” Hal explained. The foundation has made hundreds of loans to small businesses to date. Paul Newman and JFK Jr. gave Hal the award of Most Generous Business in America.
A down-to-earth, anti-consumerism Christian entrepreneur, Hal and his wife Norma live a modest life in a “narrow wood-frame” home in Media, Pa. Instead of a drying machine, the couple dries their laundry from a clothesline on the back porch. “It wasn’t a vow of poverty, I didn’t do anything like that,” said the Taussig, according to the United Methodist News Service. “I said I’m never going to have any money in the bank … or have anything in my name. And whatever’s left over at the end of the month, whatever’s left over, I get rid of it,” he said. Similarly, he got rid of his car giving it to a hitchhiker; Taussig has not had a car since 1971 and has traveled using his bicycle. “I have a mission to fight this consumerism,” said Taussig. “I think the direction we’re heading in is catastrophic.”
The Taussigs attend First United Methodist Church in Media, PA. Their son is a United Methodist minister and a professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. One of their daughters is an ordained Lutheran priest, and the other is an artist who works for Untours.
“You talk about your heart breaking for homeless people and [how] the church should be outraged about poverty, hunger and war,” said Taussig’s pastor, the Rev. Maridel Whitmore.
“Here’s a person doing what we preach and I think he’s made us all straighten up a little bit and look at ourselves…If this is what Hal’s doing, maybe we should be following his example.”
Yet Taussig is hesitant to be put in the spotlight or seen as a role model.
“I don’t particularly like being made the center of attention as I am right now,” he said, according to UMNS. “I’m only doing this [interview] because I like to have people discuss the problem of poverty – world poverty I find so disastrous – and finding a new way to solve it.”