What Is A Philanthropist?

Celebrated Opinion Leader, Hirav Shah strongly believes thatthose 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. This is what is called philanthropy.

We can also be a beacon of hope, by being philanthropic like a few others, by uplifting the downtrodden and adding a positive touch to their lives.

Who Is A Philanthropist ?

In Hirav Shah’s words, Philanthropy consists of “private initiatives, for the public good, focusing on quality of life”. Philanthropy contrasts with business initiatives, which are private initiatives for private good, focusing on material gain, and with government endeavors, which are public initiatives for public good, e.g., focusing on provision of public services. A person who practices philanthropy is a philanthropist.

However, HIrav Shah Adds-
Philanthropy is different from charity, though there is some overlap. Charity aims to relieve the pain of a particular social problem, whereas philanthropy attempts to address the root cause of the problem.

In this article, Hirav Shah picks
10 of the most influential celebrity philanthropists making a difference in the planet.

1.Bill & Melinda Gates

Bill og Melinda Gates 2009-06-03 (bilde 01)
Kjetil Ree, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The couple runs the world’s largest private charitable foundation, with $46.8 billion in assets. The Seattle-based nonprofit focuses on global poverty, economic development, healthcare and education, and has doled out $50.1 billion in grants since the inception of its predecessors in 1994.

The foundation’s major initiatives include bringing contraceptive services to an additional 120 million women in the poorest countries, and preventing 264 million illnesses through vaccination as well as polio eradication, all by the end of 2021. As two of the world’s biggest philanthropists, Bill and Melinda have not only found a way to make the world a better place, but they’ve also developed a common goal of giving back that helps strengthen their connection as a couple.

2. Warren Buffet

Buffett had long stated his intention to give away his fortune to charity, and in June 2006, he announced a new plan to give 83% of it to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). He pledged about the equivalent of 10 million Berkshire Hathaway Class B shares to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (worth approximately $30.7 billion as of June 23, 2006), making it the largest charitable donation in history, and Buffett one of the leaders of philanthropic capitalism.

On December 9, 2010, Buffett, Bill Gates, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg signed a promise they called the “Gates-Buffett Giving Pledge”, in which they promise to donate to charity at least half of their wealth, and invite other wealthy people to follow suit. In 2018, after making almost $3.4 billion donations,Buffet was ranked 3rd in the Forbes’ List of Billionaire 2018.

Warren Buffett continues to help fund and support his family’s individual foundations which include Susan Buffett’s Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, Susan Alice Buffett’s Sherwood Foundation, Howard Graham Buffett’s Howard G. Buffett Foundation, and Peter Buffett’s NoVo Foundation.Warren Buffett was also supportive of his sister Doris Buffett’s Letters Foundation and Learning By Giving Foundation.

3. Oprah Winfrey

When it comes to being benevolent and giving to charity, one person comes to mind: Oprah Winfrey. She has donated millions of dollars to various charities and organizations, with most of her money going to three foundations: The Angel Network, The Oprah Winfrey Foundation, and The Oprah Winfrey Operating Foundation.

Using her talk show to publicize The Angel Network, Winfrey has said that 100% of any donation you give, goes directly towards funding a project. Some examples of the projects are The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa and Rebuilding the Gulf Coast.

The Oprah Winfrey Foundation is run exclusively by Oprah Winfrey. (You can not donate to this organization, because it’s funded by an endowment.) The Oprah Winfrey Operating Foundation was initially created in 2007 to give money towards the Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. Through these organizations, Winfrey has truly established herself as an altruistic person. She has extended her arm and influence far and wide throughout the world.

Besides these organizations, Oprah has volunteered her time with other, various charities. Oprah signed a wooden dog bone for an auction that will benefit the Mississippi Animal Rescue League. Oprah also gave 300 members of her audience $1000 each to donate to a charity of their choice. Winfrey helped design and signed a pair of shoes for the Stuart Weitzman charity shoe auction benefiting ovarian cancer awareness and research.

Oprah is also a big supporter of the Clinton Foundation, which supports many causes including treating HIV and AIDS and fighting climate change. She donates to Project Cuddle, which rescues hundreds of babies from abandonment and abuse every year. She is one of the largest contributors to Free The Children, an organization dedicated to building schools for children in developing countries. Oprah has also auctioned off some of the cars from her collection for charity.

4. Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan’s endless philanthropic activities have made him one of the most influential philanthropists in the world.
The major ones are mentioned below :

-Made a multimillion dollar donation to Friends of the Children in support of the organization’s national expansion campaign and their work in Charlotte and Chicago (2018)

Donated $2 million to relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Florence in the form of $1 million each to the American Red Cross and to the Foundation for the Carolinas’ Hurricane Florence Response Fund, and provided care packages and met with people affected by the hurricane in his hometown of Wilmington, NC (2018)

-Donated $7 million to fund two Novant Health Michael Jordan Family Clinics in Charlotte (2017)

-Has served as Make-A-Wish’s Chief Wish Ambassador since 2008, and has donated and brought in more than $5 million to the organization; has granted hundreds of wishes in his 30 years of working with Make-A-Wish (ongoing)

-Donated $5 million to and is a Founding Donor of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC (2016)

5.Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg TechCrunch 2012
TechCrunch, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, have pledged to give away 99% of their wealth to charity over the course of their lifetimes. Currently, that’s around $46 billion, making them some of the biggest philanthropists on the planet. Together they created the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which aims to provide equal opportunities for people while unlocking human potential.

By providing funding to science, justice and education initiatives, the Chan-Zuckerberg family plans to make a world of difference. Given their large personal and professional net worth, it’s likely they’ll stay on top of the famous philanthropist list for many years into the future. Like Melinda and Bill Gates, this couple has shown that they understand unconditional love and compassion makes both relationships and philanthropy work.

6.Serena Williams

2013 Australian Open Serena Williams (8400432646)
JC, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

On the tennis court, Serena Williams is one of the world’s greatest players but outside of her matches, she spends much of her time dedicated to philanthropy. Williams currently serves as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF. Through this role, she works to establish schools in an effort to provide quality education for vulnerable children through UNICEF’s Africa program and Schools for Asia initiative.

Williams has volunteered since 2015 to help immunize children in Ghana. She has also assisted in spreading the Largest Lesson. This program works to spread knowledge about how to combat global issues such as inequality, injustice, extreme poverty and climate change. Additionally, Williams runs her own charity called “The Serena Williams Fund,” which works to impact a variety of issues around the world ranging from race relations to inequity.

7.J.K. Rowling

J. K. Rowling at the White House 2010-04-05 9
Executive Office of the President, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

J.K.Rowling achieved billionaire status because of her success with the Harry Potter series. However, she is no longer a billionaire because she has donated so much of her fortune to charity. In 2011, she donated 16 percent of her total net worth, equal to about $160 million.

One of Rowling’s novels, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, will be republished by Scholastic with the proceeds going to the charity Comic Relief and Rowling’s global charity, Lumos. Rowling will be adding a new foreword that is narrated by Newt Scamander and includes new details on the Wizarding World.

Within the past year, Rowling’s charities have donated more than £8 million to various causes. Volant Charitable Trust gave more than £3 million to causes like the Disasters Emergency Committee, Save the Children and Christian Aid. Rowling’s other charity, Lumos, gave more than £5.2 million to aid orphans and children in perilous situations worldwide.Rowling’s charity, Lumos, is an international nonprofit organization whose main goal is to aid orphaned children in troubled situations in finding their families or otherwise provide them with a loving home.

Over the past year, Lumos has helped to reunite more than 111 children in Haiti with their families.Another of the facts about J.K. Rowling’s charity work is that in addition to her own foundations, Rowling supports 14 organizations. She has served as an ambassador for the charity Gingerbread, and now holds the title of honorary president. Gingerbread advocates for single parents by providing them with support and advice.

Rowling has shown her support for the charity Comic Relief, whose goal is to end poverty and social biases in the U.K., by writing two Harry Potter companion novels for the organization. The sales from Quidditch Through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them have raised more than £17 million for Comic Relief.

An additional charity Rowling fervently supports is the Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic, located at the University of Edinburgh. Rowling’s mother is the namesake for the clinic; she died in 1990 due to complications from multiple sclerosis.

Rowling is an avid humanitarian, and helps to support these organizations by providing personal donations and through her successful book sales.

8.Diane Von FurStenberg

Diane von Furstenberg Barry Dilly Shankbone 2010 NYC
David Shankbone, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

She and her husband, media mogul and founder of the USA network Barry Diller, have pledged to give over $1 billion in charitable contributions. As the director of The Diller–von Furstenberg Family Foundation, this famous philanthropist has already helped generate millions of dollars to help organizations in the public spaces, community building, education, arts, human rights and environmental sectors.

9.George Soros

George Soros - Festival Economia 2012 02
Niccolò Caranti, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Hungarian native oversees Open Society Foundations, a network of more than 20 regional and national foundations in eastern Europe and beyond. Causes it supports include voter rights and campaign finance, criminal justice reform, media freedom and human rights initiatives. Meanwhile, he landed on the famous philanthropist list by transferring the bulk of his wealth – over $23 billion – to his charitable organization, the Open Society Foundations.

10. Jeff Bezos

The world’s richest man is one of the most influential philanthropists of the planet as well. In February 2020, Bezos pledged $10 billion to combat climate change through the Bezos Earth Fund. Later that year, in November, Bezos announced $791M of donations to established, well-known groups, with $100M each going to Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, The Nature Conservancy, World Resources Institute and World Wildlife Fund, and the remainder going to 11 other groups. In April 2020, early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Bezos donated $100 million to food banks through Feeding America.


The secret to living is giving. That is to say, by contributing to the well-being of others, our communities and the world at large, we find more meaning in life. Many high-profile people have learned this lesson, choosing to donate their financial resources to communities and causes that need support.

Remember, you don’t live in a world all your own. Indeed, Charity must begin at home but should not end there“- Concludes Hirav Shah.