When people think of billionaires, they tend to look at them with envy, wishing they were them. They tend to imagine how nice it would be to be these people with all their money and success. Others may be thinking most billionaires hoard their money, which is why they have so much. But in actuality, many billionaires give large percentages of their fortunes to charitable causes. Some give publicly, while others choose to make their giving anonymous.
Warren Buffett in conjunction with Bill and Melinda Gates of Microsoft, launched a campaign in 2006 called The Giving Pledge, which seeks to get billionaires to commit at least half of their wealth to philanthropy throughout their lives or upon death. This pledge has really taken off among the world’s wealthy as a way to publicly declare their desire to help the world and to hopefully inspire more of their financial peers to join in the cause.
To date, 115 billionaires have pledged themselves to the cause and have written personal notes on the importance of giving. Among those names are some very well-known people. Here are 12 billionaires who are giving large sums of their fortunes to do good for humanity and the earth alike.
12 Ronald Perelman
11 Larry Ellison
You may not know the name Ellison or his company, Oracle Corporation, but his work is well-known in the tech industry. Oracle is the developer of the popular Java programming language that is used throughout the world in many electronics. He is worth about $51 billion and is a participant of The Giving Pledge. In his pledge letter, he wrote: "I put virtually all of my assets into a trust with the intent of giving away at least 95 percent of my wealth to charitable causes." He went on to write “Warren Buffett personally asked me to write this letter because he said I would be ‘setting an example’ and ‘influencing others’ to give. I hope he’s right.” He primarily donates money to causes benefiting medical care and education.
10 Paul Allen
9 Ted Turner
8 Azim Premji
Premji is the chairman of Wipro Limited, a giant in the IT industry in India. He founded the Azim Premji Foundation in 2001, through which he aims to improve the public education system in India. Most of his philanthropic work seeks to improve the lives of people in his homeland of India. He is a participant in The Giving Pledge. “I strongly believe that those of us, who are privileged to have wealth, should contribute significantly to try and create a better world for the millions who are far less privileged. I will continue to act on this belief,” his pledge states.
7 Jeff Skoll
6 David Rockefeller
The Rockefeller name has been quite popular for decades. “Who do you think we are, the Rockefellers?” is a common sarcastic question many Americans have heard at one point or another, likely during their childhood. It is good to know that such a well-known name is so generous with their money. Rockefeller was of course a banker and served as CEO of Chase Manhattan Corporation for years. David Rockefeller has donated large sums of money to the causes of poverty, health and the environment. A participant in the Giving Pledge, he has promised at least half his assets to philanthropy.
5 George Lucas
A man needing no introduction, George Lucas is of course most famous for his Star Wars series of movies. Although Lucas lives a pretty quiet life and is rarely seen in the public eye. His movies are one which everyone has either heard of and/or seen. Most people probably don't know that Lucas is also a prominent philanthropist. Lucas is engaged in helping to improve the state of education through his organizations Edutopia, and the George Lucas Educational Foundation. He has strong beliefs that education is crucial for the success of future generations. He is also a participant in the Giving Pledge.
4 Michael R. Bloomberg
3 Mark Zuckerberg
Compared to some of the other names on this list, Zuckerberg is very much new money. But even though he hasn’t had his money for a long time, the Facebook founder has been an active philanthropist during his time as a billionaire. Through the Giving Pledge, he and his wife Priscilla Chan, have pledged most of their estate to charity. In addition to his previous pledge, this year, following the birth of his daughter, he and his wife pledged to give away 99% of their Facebook stock holdings, worth an estimated $45 billion, to various causes over the course of their lives.
2 Bill Gates
1 Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett is well known for his work in investments, widely hailed as the most successful investor in the world. Founder of the Giving Pledge along with Bill and Melinda Gates, Buffett wishes that more billionaires would follow his example and pledge to give their money to worthy causes. In June 2006, he pledged to give away 83% of his fortune to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest single charitable donation in history, valued at over $30 billion. Buffett is said to be worth $63 billion, according to Forbes, making him the 3rd wealthiest man in the world in 2015. He was ranked the world’s most generous philanthropist in 2007 by Bloomberg Businessweek.