Philanthropy Among the Nation’s Financial Elite
There are plenty of people across the world that want to have a positive impact on their neighbor, community, or country, but very few sacrifice their own time and fortune to make a change.
In times of crisis, you often see celebrities and noted individuals like athletes or wealthy businessmen promising a certain dollar amount to support a cause or organization, but the average American doesn’t usually follow up with the claim to make sure the individual made good on their pledge.
Generally speaking, those who give the most in the U.S. are among the wealthiest in the country.
The Biggest Names in Philanthropy
You don’t really need to do much research to figure out who the top gives in the country are. Warren Buffet, the Berkshire Hathaway chairman and successful investor, has been the top philanthropist in the nation for five years in a row. He is closely followed by his good friends and fellow billionaires Bill and Melinda Gates, whose foundation-The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation- is reported to be the largest privately held foundation in the world.
Rounding out the top five is Michael Bloomberg, the Walton family, and George Soros. If you look at the total number of donations made by America’s top 50 philanthropists in 2018, the total is around $14.1 billion.
So far, the total tally on the group’s lifetime giving efforts exceeds $173 billion. It takes writing some huge checks to get to this number, so in addition to the efforts of people like Mark Stevens, Gordon and Betty Moore, and John and Laura Arnold, here’s a look at some of the others using their fortunes to help make the world a better place.
Charles Koch. The head of Koch Industries, the multinational corporation with subsidiaries in a variety of industries like manufacturing, ranching, chemical technology, finance, and investing, centers his giving on education, community groups, and criminal justice reform.
Some of his funds go to support Hudson Link, an organization that offers college courses to inmates in five New York prisons. He also gives money to fund scholarships and grants to students at 300 colleges and sends money to the Phoenix, an organization promoting exercise as a way to conquer addiction.
Dustin Moskovitz and Cari Tuna. Just about everyone knows the philanthropic efforts of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan, but few realize how Facebook co-founder Dustin has also embraced philanthropy. He and his wife signed Buffet’s Giving Pledge while still in their twenties, and at 35, they have already given over $1 billion to charities around the world. As a couple, they donated $26.6 million to the Malaria Consortium to help fight the risk of the illness.
Lynn and Stacy Schusterman. This mother-daughter duo has continued to support the causes of their husband/father oil billionaire Charles Schusterman, who with their foundation has an overall goal to spread the joy of Jewish living, giving and learning. A prime focus is an education, with several million being given to New Leaders, an organization that works to train and support principals in the country’s neediest schools.
They have also donated over $3 million to Repair the World, an organization that provider fellowships (among other opportunities) to young people who have the potential to make an impact on Jewish life.
Michael and Susan Dell. The founder of tech giant Dell has given over $1 billion through the foundation he and his wife started in 1999. The focus of their giving to change urban poverty situations, making it possible for over three million low-income students to enroll in a high-quality school and gain access to a better station in life.
Mari Malek. As a Vogue cover model, Malek is the best and brightest in the world of fashion beyond just the runway. She has earned fame through appearances in the Lady Gaga music videos, Sundance-winning movies, and being a DJ some of the hottest clubs in Manhattan. She has made something of herself after fleeing war-torn South Sudan as a refugee when she was just nine years old. As she found success for her efforts, Malik created the Stand 4 Education charity to promote educational opportunities for women and children around the world.
The Smallest Efforts in Philanthropy
It may seem like only the rich and famous have the funds to give away, but taking care of the human family is everyone’s responsibility. In light of the impact that COVID-19 has had on small businesses and entrepreneurs in your community, you could take part in giving efforts that keep local businesses alive.
GoFundMe accounts are ways to help your neighbor on a small scale, but every gift toward a better world is valuable, no matter how small. Supporting the local food pantry with canned and dry goods, taking donations to a homeless shelter, and volunteering time at a soup kitchen are all ways to help bring a better quality of life to the people around you that may be less fortunate and disadvantaged.