Top 10 Philanthropists


It’s easy to criticize the rich for extravagant lifestyles, especially at a time when so many are facing financial hardships in a suffering economy.  However, what often is overlooked or outright ignored are the philanthropic activities that the richest of the rich are involved with.  Supporting causes ranging from higher education to the eradication of terminal diseases, the uber-rich pump billions of dollars into charitable causes around the world.  Lear jets and lavish mansions aside, wealthy philanthropist provide a sizable portion of the necessary funds that many worthwhile organizations need to operate.  The key for big spenders on this list is the immediate impact of their giving endeavors. Here is a top 10 list that is worth its weight in gold, representing some of the worlds leading philanthropists.

10.  Richard Branson

Mr. Branson is a businessman who is familiar with challenges.  This is the man who started his own airline.  His next step has him taking on one of the direst concerns facing the planet – preserving the environment.  To fund his ‘green’ endeavors, such as developing reliable green energy, Richard Branson is donating the profits from some of his business holdings (transportation, which generates an estimated $3 billion).  His foundation, Virgin Unite, has even offered a $25 million bounty for any practical solution to cleansing the atmosphere. Seeking to produce results, Mr. Branson continually compensates organizations and individuals who develop solutions to fight global warming.

9.  Eli and Edythe Broad

Eli Broad made his fortune in the business area.  A well respected businessman, Mr. Broad has focused his acumen on philanthropic activities.  He and his wife Edythe manage the Broad Foundations (which features several smaller organizations that focus on specific causes).  Interestingly, the Broads endeavor to fund worthwhile causes that no one else does – in fact, this is generally a criteria for their interest in a project.  This keen approach has resulted in their foundation assisting in areas where an impact at foundational levels is needed – from doctors performing medical research that’s not quite prepared for government grants to funding training for education administrators.  The Broads are also a leader in funding genome research.

8.  Warren Buffet

One could easily argue that Mr. Buffet could be much higher on this list when one considers the sheer amount of money that he has provided to charitable causes.  A highly successful investor, Mr. Buffet has earned billions.  Not taking his success for granted, Mr. Buffet has equally invested billions to various philanthropic causes.  Most recently, he has pledged almost $38 billion to assist the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (whose work we have listed further down).  Additionally, Mr. Buffet awarded each of his 3 children about $1 billion a piece to fund their own, individual philanthropic projects.

7.  Thomas Siebel

For this list, impact is the name of the game and Thomas Siebel certainly meets this criteria.  When Mr. Siebel became aware of the disastrous effects of methamphetamines on individuals and communities in Montana, he leapt into action.  Founding The Meth Project, Mr. Siebel invested a sizable portion of his wealth into a public blitz about the dangers of meth addictionThe Meth Project bought thousands (literally) of ad spots – from billboards to television to get the word out. The results speak for themselves.  Montana, once listed as one of the highest states with meth abuse, is now one of the lowest.  With such resounding success, Mr. Siebel and The Meth Project are carrying their efforts to other states.

6.  William Barron Hilton

The Hilton’s, among the richest of the rich, are certainly known for living a very lavish lifestyle.  This image (or perhaps because of it) hasn’t prevented William Hilton from doing his part to help others.  To this end, William Hilton has pledged an eye-opening 97% of his personal wealth to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. This infusion of cash (estimated to be around $2 billion) will allow the foundation to continue to provide shelter for the homeless, offer vocational training to the disadvantaged, and assist disabled children with obtaining needed educational opportunities.  The efforts of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation are international in scope.

5.  George Soros

With as much as $6 billion in total donations to date, George Soros has made an impact in a number areas.  Our second hedge fund manager, Mr. Soros knows his way around money.  Using this talent for more than just realizing profits for his clients, Mr. Soros has channeled his philanthropic efforts towards many of the social issues in eastern and central Europe.  His Open Society Institute has invested funds in such diverse areas ranging from college scholarships to economic relief.  With a belief that poverty is often the result of poor government, Mr. Soros also assists heavily in pro-democratic endeavors in many former Soviet bloc nations.

4.  Chris and Jamie Cooper-Hohn

This husband and wife duo supports the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation.  Mr. Cooper-Hohn is best known for his activities as a hedge fund manager.  His shrewd business dealings have earned him a somewhat notorious reputation in the business world.  Nevertheless, with the assistance of his wife Jamie; Chris has invested a good deal of his earnings into his charitable foundation.  So much so, that the Children’s Foundation boasts of $2.5 billion in assets.  Targeting some of the poorest areas of the world (i.e. Africa and the India sub-continent) the Cooper-Hahn’s seek to improve the lives of children.  The Children’s Foundation endeavors to have an immediate impact in its endeavors and therefore focuses on areas such as the alleviation of hunger, reproductive health services and the like.

3.  Bill and Hillary Clinton

It’s not unusual for former American presidents to be socially active.  Such is the case of the next member on our list, former president Bill Clinton.  Through his (and wife, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton) William J. Clinton Foundation, the president has been able to channel his own wealth and visibility into a number of worthwhile initiatives.  The Clinton Foundation has worked around the world to provide educational opportunities to children (over 10 million), clean drinking water to some of the poorest regions (impacting over 12 million), and working for a cleaner environment (aiding in the reduction of millions of tons of CO2 emissions.

2.  Donna and Philip Berber

In terms of impact, there are few that have had as a direct impact as the next entry on our list of Donna and Philip Berber.  Philip Berber made millions with his online trading company, CyberCorp and even more once he sold it to Charles Schwab.  Apparently, this provided Mr. Berber more time to focus on his charitable activities through his foundation ‘A Glimmer of Hope’.  A Glimmer of Hope Foundation focuses on one of the poorest nations of the world: Ethiopia.  And the work they have done has had an immediate and needed impact on the lives of millions of people.  To date, the work of the Berber’s foundation has resulted in thousands of wells for water being dug, several hundred schools constructed, and much needed microloans granted.

1.  Bill and Melinda Gates

The name Microsoft invokes all kinds of emotions in people, and not all of the feelings are good.  Nevertheless, whatever one may think about the business practices of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, few can fault his philanthropic activities.  Teaming with his wife Melinda Gates, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has proved to be a charitable giant.  With over $34 billion in assets, the foundation funds initiatives around the world.  Ranging from educational grants to medical research – the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation seeks to assist the people of the world lead improved lives.  Mr. and Mrs. Gates donated their entire 2009 dividends from Microsoft stock to their foundation (a whopping $3 billion)!

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  1. SOME of these GREAT personalities have a record of MARKET manipulation on GLOBALscales!!!! That also shold be a factor in the LIST. Robinhood robbed RICH and not poors.

  2. Some of these comments are scathing. Be glad these giants give so much. How much have you given? I dedicated my life to giving, and am using my V.A. Disability money to fund my own charity aimed at helping people at poverty level income or with disabilities achieve a minimum of average yearly pay- limiting my own profits to the same- average yearly pay. And that is only to get off of disability. Why would you downplay these men? Even if they did harsh things in the past, isn’t it enough for them to start giving? We all make mistakes- how can you knock these people down when they aim to achieve so much for the greater good? I went to this site for inspiration and you cloud it with accusations and negative dissention. Take you’re abrogating mentalities elsewhere. Thank you to all fellow philanthropists. Keep fighting the good fight.

  3. Pete Sennhauser on

    It takes the ‘less haves’ to make the ‘much haves’, there is no other way. And when the ‘much haves’ give back something without risking their own demise, we call that philanthropy. That they can do that, only proves by how much they’ve been able to milk the rest of us. It’s capitalism.
    Philanthropy receives even more credit, when it concerns ‘saving lives’ as in preventing diseases that could pose an early death. Our unwillingness to accept, that death IS unavoidable, but that life should go on forever, artificially if ‘need’ be, will bring us to a point where humans will be crawling all over this planet like maggots on a carcass, with no other life possible. Will we be happy then? Probably not!
    Real philanthropy would be a situation where ‘capital’ no longer restricts us and EACH of us was able to make ‘sharing and contributing’ their highest goal and spiritual path.
    To your credit, we’re all philanthropists , we all tip the barista and give where we can, but when you have several billion times more money to do that, you end up in the news.

  4. hi,i have a project in Ghana,my village; Mumford.i want to build a complex that contains a theater, a television station and a radio station.i need help in the area of guidance on the technical advice and financial support

  5. As laudable as it is for these people to give back their wealth lets just stop and think where it all came from in the first place . Take a hedge manager for instance ,they invest in companies that return profits ,these profits are often generated by maximising revenue that is steeped in misery ,driving wages low ,outsourcing their manufacturing base to poor countries that pay little money with no conditions and often scant regard for human safety and lives. Banks that are as corrupt as they want to be ,harbingers of doom ,lending billions ,charging billions more ,bankrupting entire countries .

    Yes ,give a bit back by all means if it doth ease ones conscience but lets not forget how the wealth is accumalated in the first place.

  6. Hi, i am chairman Asia Humanitarian Organization Pakistan . we are working in different sector in pakistan . presently we are working in orakzai agency FATA for water supply. we are working in education , health, agriculture and natural disaster.

  7. Arjun working for L&T on

    Well of course people mentioned here are top philanthropists and hats off to them. But it is not hard n fast tat only richest of the rich should contribute. wat if each n everyone of us contribute something for the society. wat if each one of us sponsor one or two less advantaged children for their education and set them a nice life… and those kids for sure will grow into responsible citizens and they will sponsor somebody else. Wont tat be a chain reaction which will improve this society to a great extent?. if this happens earth would become a much better place to live in jus few decades

    My personal opinion is tat it is not how rich u r or how much u contribute, rather it is contributing mentality and philanthropic heart is wat u need. jus contribute according to ur financil status. small contributions from everyone of us will make a significant development. After all drops of water make a mighty ocean.

    U need not carry the burden of others when u climb the ladder of life. Rather first u climb the ladder and give hands for others to come up.


  8. K.S.Balasubramanian on

    It is heartening to know that there are some wealthy persons who have big heart to share their money with the less priveleged ones in the world. While this is certainly to be lauded and admired, please think for a moment that most of the money is spent on medicine, social service, education and so on. What about preserving the ancient culture.
    This world is moving in rapid speed due to the advancement of science and technology on one side and degradation in moral, ethical, spiritual and cultural values on the other side.
    The Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute, Mylapore, Chennai, an internationally well known institute in the field of Sanskrit and indological research for more than six decades. They have been serving for the cause of preserving Indian culture, philosophy, religious studies, langauge, liguistics, Yoga, and so on in so many ways like publication of books, Journal ( Journal of Oriental Research), maintaining a rare and rich collection of more than 60000 books and journals and also 1500 ancient Palm-leaf manuscripts in their prestigeous library which attracts scholars and public from all over India and other countries, lectures/seminars and also research. Many Indian and foreign scholars from all the continents have been pursuing their post-graduate research courses/ projects and also for learning Sanskrit, philosophy, languages etc.
    It is a pity that this Institute is languishing for want of funds even to maintain the library and also pay the staff (less than 10) and would be facing closure soon. The Government officials in Delhi are not sympathetic though the requests have been sent to them so many times in the last fifteen years and have been avoiding any answer.
    The corporate sectors, Multinational giants spend crores/millions of rupees in advertisements and sponsorship for games like Cricket and few individuals get the benefit.
    Is not our responsibility to give a helping hand to such an institution to prosper and help others to serve for the casue of preservation of our culture? Please think over.
    You can see their web-site: and contact them at: [email protected].
    Thank you for your patient reading and your help.

  9. So Mr and Mrs X, now that you have more money than you'll ever need, what would you like to do with it.

    well, we'd like to buy an island, do some shopping, go to space…

    ok, very well, but you realise that every year a percentage of that has to be paid in income tax and other taxes will come up as well. you'll end up losing most of it over the next twenty years, even if i invest it properly for you, one never can tell where the market goes, even the oracle of omaha is fallible right?

    well i'd hate to see it all go to the government, i'd just rather give it to needy people myself, then it'll look like we care, we'll be famous, we'll be in top ten nice people lists.

    very well, let me set up a charitable trust, then you can stay in control of the money and be free from the taxes…

  10. I am Head of the Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery at K J Hospital Research and Postgraduate Centre, Chennai, India. We perform free cardiac surgery for less affluent children

    under a project Needy Little Hearts, under K J Research Foundation. I have been finding it extremely difficult to sustain this project. I have never been able to directly contact any philanthropist to convince him/her of this dire need. Taking the meandering path of formalities has been time consuming, exhaustive and bereft of tangible results. It is a shame that when there are so many international philanthropists with large hearts in this world , there are still children dying due to financial contraints in another corner of the world. According to world statistics these children may form a small percentage and hence do not attract attention. Yet these are nevertheless lives. By the time they grow in number and attract attention there will be many precious lives lost. It is only upto us small timers to draw attention to this fact. I am sure there are many like me who are wondering what todo. Can any organisation help us to put across our thoughts to the philanthropists directly?

  11. Really, some of these folks advocate EUGENICS … get a clue do some research …

  12. I am most impressed with William Barron Hilton. To give 97% of ones personal wealth, even if left with millions, is outstanding.

  13. Bill and Melinda Gates are so kind, If you add up all the cash he has given away he would be the richest man in the world. But he was beat out buy some mexican dude by $500 million. Bill Gates should be crowned the richest man in the world.

    • Patricia Freeman on

      I can show you many other who could benefit from the help. Our homeless problem is growning. there is no where for men women and children to live. they stack them in hotels and many run out of food even with foodstamps. Atlanta georgia and Charlotte north carolina are awful. these cities need help bad bad bad. poeple are suffering. especially the children. God hlp the person that has it and does not give to the poor. Certainly there are no magic solutions bur more can be done. How does one get personal help. Most people are not asking for a lot. Some just need to get started and back on their feet.