Just because someone has worked hard to gain a mass of wealth, that doesn’t mean they’re greedy. Sure, there are plenty of millionaires and billionaires out there that flaunt their lifestyle, but there are also those who choose to live a quiet life. These modest billionaires have done something profound: they have given away much of their money.
As a way to encourage their fellow billionaires to step up to the philanthropic plate, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates started the Giving Pledge in 2010. It encourages those billionaires to pledge to give away 50% of their earnings to charity. By 2012, over 81 billionaires joined the Giving Pledge. That number is now over 120 billionaires, as of May 2014, according to the Giving Pledge’s official website.
Today, we’re talking about philanthropic billionaires that have taken the Giving Pledge and work to donate to notable charities all over the world. Read on for our list of 11 notable billionaires who plan to give away half their wealth. We could all take a cue from these philanthropists, even if we’re nowhere close to being called “billionaires.”
These days, Warren Buffett is more known for his philanthropy than for being a business magnate. Still, by his masterful investing skills he has amassed a fortune of $63 billion and often trails Bill Gates by only a few spots when it comes to the list of the wealthiest people in the world. More notable than his fortune is what he plans to do with it. With the Giving Pledge, he’s planned to give away 99% of his earnings to charity. Because of this, he’s always intended to live meagerly. In fact, he’s lived in the same house for decades: one he bought in 1957 for around $32K.
Diane von Fürstenberg
Notable high fashion designer Diane von Fürstenberg is no stranger to money. With a successful fashion line, she’s amassed a net worth of $1.2 billion. Forbes even named her the 68th most powerful woman in the world. However, having wealth isn’t the only thing she focuses on. Philanthropy is important to her and her husband Barry Diller who have taken the Giving Pledge. The pair created the Diller – von Fürstenberg Family Foundation, which has donated, among other things, over $35 million to New York City’s High Line.
The oldest living member of the notable Rockefeller family, David Rockefeller is the patriarch of the family. Through nearly a century of life, he has amassed a comfortable net worth of $2.7 billion. Over the years, he’s given a large portion of his income to charity. He even won the Andrew Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy in 2001. In 1989, he created the David Rockefeller Fund which helps people in four important ways: arts, criminal justice, environment and community.
Elon Musk has had his hand in many ventures. He’s the CEO of SpaceX, a co-founder of PayPal and the CEO and chief product architect for Tesla Motors. It’s no surprise that he’s worth $12 billion with those kinds of ventures on his resume. But, with his history in philanthropy, it’s also no surprise that he took the Giving Pledge. He’s the founder of the Musk Foundation that focuses its charitable efforts on science education and clean energy, among other things. In addition, he’s also a part of the X Prize Foundation and the Space Foundation.
In addition to being a recent mayor of New York City for three terms, Michael Bloomberg is also a business magnate worth $31 billion. Now that his run as the mayor is over, he can start focusing on his charitable work. It seems like good timing that he chose to participate in the Giving Pledge! He started the Bloomberg Philanthropies Foundation. According to Fast Company, the foundation focuses its charitable efforts in areas such as public health and the environment. Among other recent charitable donations, he gave $220 million toward fighting global tobacco use.
It’s no surprise that the creator of one of the most popular movie franchises of all time would be up to the gills in billions of dollars. George Lucas‘ fortune is thanks to the rabid Star Wars fans that clamor for the space fantasy tale. But what does he do with his $4.9 billion fortune? He’s taken the Giving Pledge seriously. He created the George Lucas Educational Foundation in 1991 to promote education in schools. He’s given to a wide variety of charities, including $25 million to After School Matters, according to the Chicago Tribune.
As the founder of Virgin Group, British billionaire Richard Branson has his hand in over 400 companies, including the Virgin Records music label and the Virgin Atlantic airline. Because of these endeavors, he’s worth $4.2 billion. Rather than horde all that money, he decided to join his fellow billionaires by taking the Giving Pledge. He supports dozens of charities and foundations, including the Mineseeker Foundation, Greenpeace and the Strike a Chord for Cancer Foundation.
Billionaires have come upon their fortunes in many interesting ways. In the case of Mark Zuckerberg, he amassed his $32 billion fortune by creating a successful social networking website: Facebook. While he is one of the youngest billionaires at only 30-years-old, he’s significantly more responsible with his money that other thirty-somethings with far less means. After committing to the Giving Pledge, Mark donated Facebook shares worth about $990 million to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, according to the Daily Telegraph. And that’s just one of many charitable donations.
When your friend and business partner becomes well-known for giving away his billions, it seems like a good idea to follow suit. That’s what Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, is doing. Just like friend Bill Gates, he’s taken the Giving Pledge. Worth around $14 billion, Paul has won awards for his philanthropic efforts over the years. In 2012, he received the Eli and Edythe Broad Award for Philanthropy in the Arts. He started the Paul G Allen Family Foundation for charitable work and is a part of several foundations for advancements in science.
The founder of cable television networks CNN, TBS and TNT, Ted Turner has amassed a respectable fortune of $2.2 billion. Even more respectable, he’s pledged to give away half of it. Even before the Giving Pledge, he was a master of philanthropy. In 1998, he pledged a donation of $1 billion to the United Nations, forming the United Nations Foundation, according to the New York Times. He supports many charities, including the Captain Planet Foundation and Children’s Cancer & Blood Foundation.
Bill Gates, along with his wife Melinda, has devoted himself to charity. From 1995 to 2014, the Microsoft co-founder has been almost consistently ranked as the wealthiest person in the world, according to Forbes. Though he has used some of his $80 billion on himself and his family, including owning a $125 million home, he focuses most of his money on philanthropy. He and his wife created the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for charitable work, and, as of 2007, they have given $28 billion to charity, according to Businessweek.