Philanthropy In The Public Eye

Four business minds who have helped change the lives of those significantly less fortunate.

It’s one thing to change the world with a brilliant investment or unique discovery, but it’s something else altogether to change the world through an act of charity.

Here are four business minds who have used their good fortune and business acumen to help change the lives of those significantly less fortunate than themselves.

Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg might be best known as the creator of Facebook, but he will soon go down in history as one of the biggest donators to charity in history. In 2015, Zuckerberg announced that he and his wife would donate 99 percent of their Facebook shares to charity — an amount that could total around US$45 billion. The money will go to the Chan Zuckerberg foundation, and Zuckerberg has stated that the work will “focus on pushing the boundaries on how great a human can be. Our society must do this not only for justice or charity, but for the greatness of human progress”. The charity seeks to improve the daily lives and provide help for those who most need it, and will focus on initiatives including medicine, economic opportunity and empowering under-represented groups.

Oprah Winfrey

Media mogul Oprah Winfrey set up her foundation, The Angel Network, in 1998. It was built with a view to encouraging and inspiring individuals around the world to make a difference to each other’s lives. The Angel Network concentrates mainly on issues concerning women and children, and seeks to help them gain the necessary tools to empower themselves and to change their situation. To date, the foundation has been involved in projects including Free The Children, which built over 55 schools in 12 countries; providing 150 scholarships to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America; providing over US$1 million of school supplies to 18,000 impoverished South African children; and helping to re-build over 300 homes after Hurricane Katrina.

Warren Buffett

One of the most famous investors of all time, Warren Buffett is yet another great example of someone using his profile, and finances for good. Founding The Giving Pledge with Bill and Melinda Gates in 2000, the foundation encourages some of the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to pledge the majority of their wealth to a variety of charitable causes. As of this year, the foundation had raised pledges of over US$365 million, with names joining The Giving Pledge including Elon Musk, David Rockefeller and Richard Branson.

Paul G Allen

Paul G Allen might be known as the co-founder of the world’s largest computer software manufacturer, Microsoft, but he is also one of the single-largest donors to charity in the world. Having set up multiple charities in his name, to date, he has given US$295 million to the Paul G Allen foundation, which helps scientific research; US$70 million to the Allen Institute for Brain Science; and US$7.6 million to the Experience Music and Science Fiction Museum. As of last year, he was the second-biggest donor in the world when it came to giving funds to charitable institutions.


Written by
Poppy covers a wide range of topics at Billionaire, having spent the past 13 years at companies including Singapore Tatler, Her World Plus and Harpers Bazaar UK. She has a passion for fashion, jewellery and travel as well as an avaricious fascination with crime novels. Follow her at poppypskinner on Instagram.

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