How the Other Half Gives

Once you’ve had major success, you’re living comfortably in the home of your dreams, and there is little else for which you could want, what do you do with your money? For many successful entrepreneurs, the answer is simple: give back. Philanthropy is not just good PR or a way to make headlines. It stems from an honest sense of good will and a desire to use good business fortune to build better communities. The majority of wealthy entrepreneurs give back; a 2010 study by The Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund and Ernst & Young found that 61% of the entrepreneurs in the study felt that their position made them more inclined to do charitable work, with 55% taking a hand in actively choosing where the money is allocated. That’s a lot of care and planning for some already busy people. In this week’s blog, we’ll uncover some of the most affluent among us, and give a glimpse into how the other half gives.

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Mark Zuckerberg

The Facebook-founding philanthropist has slowly been providing company shares to non-profit organizations as a way to help them make money. In 2013, he donated $1 billion in shares to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. Arguably some of his best work, he makes sure to give back to the community in which his company thrives. He plans to donate a minimum of half of his net worth within his lifetime, and has donated large sums to public schools and hospitals in the Bay Area and across the United States.

Oprah Winfrey

Named the most charitable celebrity by numerous sources, this television queen has more under her belt than just her charming persona. She has given over $40 million to charities and nearly $240 million in total resources to her charitable foundation alone. Her primary interests rest in the arts and education for women and children the world over. According to her website, Oprah’s Angel Network “creates opportunities for underserved woman and children to rise to their potential.” After the devastation of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Angel Network helped rebuild nearly 300 homes and her book club provides books for children with few resources before its close in 2011. Even after the Angel Network came to an end, she contributes to other organizations she founded among others.

Warren Buffett

The Nebraska native and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway has been outspoken in years past about the importance of giving back. He once said “someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago,” and he seems to live by that motto. Just this year he gave $3.17 billion in company shares split between a few different charitable organizations. This comes late on the heels of his 2006 declaration that he will eventually donate all the Berkshire Hathaway shares. In partnership with the next entrepreneur on our list, he formed The Giving Pledge in 2010 which encourages other wealthy moguls to donate more actively. His daughter, Susan, also runs her own charitable organization which provides college scholarships to low income students as well as an outstanding teacher award.

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Bill and Melinda Gates

Alongside their friend Warren Buffett, Bill and Melinda Gates helped secure 170 signatures thus far on The Giving Pledge which, as we stated before, encourages the wealthy to return the majority of their wealth to community programs, scientific research, and other philanthropic works through charitable donation. They have given money to aid foreign and domestic efforts in healthcare, female empowerment and education, medical research, and government programs among others. As of 2016, the two reportedly donated over $30 billion to their foundation which allocates money to charitable work and organizations.

Lyda Hill

This oil heiress from Dallas has made a name for herself through founding a travel agency and her work in venture capitalism. Surprisingly for someone whose family works in oil, she makes most of her charitable donations in ocean conservation and marine research. Now a full-time philanthropist, she also donates funds to bio-medical research (especially cancer research), sustainable energy sources, and environmental conservation. In 2013 alone, Hill donated $62.3 million to various charitable organizations.

Mark Cuban

Most popular for his reoccurring role on the television show Shark Tank, Mark Cuban’s business advice is only outshines by his giving spirit. Alongside the Mark Cuban Foundation which provides charitable contributions to Dallas and the surrounding areas, he also helped launch a new program in 2003 specifically for veterans and their families. The Fallen Patriot Fund aimed to aid those with family members who were killed or wounded in Iraq, and Cuban matched the first $1 million with funds from his own charity.