More than a century ago, business magnate and entrepreneur Andrew Carnegie set the precedent for using personal wealth to give back to the world and its citizens. Since then, some of the planet’s richest individuals have made philanthropy a cornerstone of their life’s work. Here are five of today’s most generous givers, as evidenced by the time they invest in philanthropy and their total charitable donations as compared to their overall net worth:
TED TURNER – LIFETIME DONATIONS $1.2 BILLION
This American broadcast television and entertainment mogul is currently serving as chairman of Turner Enterprises as well as chairman as the philanthropic arm of the business, the Turner Foundation. This charitable organization works to improve the local community in addition to its heavy involvement and investment in various conservation and environmental causes.
MARK ZUCKERBERG – LIFETIME DONATIONS $1.6 BILLION
As one of history’s youngest self-made billionaires, the Facebook founder is an advocate of the Giving Pledge, guaranteeing that he will give back at least 50 percent of his earnings over the course of his life. Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla, use their wealth to fight global health concerns such as Ebola as well as educational issues.
BILL GATES – LIFETIME DONATIONS $27 BILLION
The Microsoft co-founder left the venerable software company years ago to launch the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, focused on providing a wealth of services and financial grants to programs and initiatives all around the world. Known in global circles as the gold standard of philanthropic giving, Gates’ foundation has donated millions of dollars to helping to fight disease in various third world countries.
WARREN BUFFETT – LIFETIME DONATIONS $21.5 BILLION
One of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s biggest givers is Warren Buffett. The chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway has promised to donate 85 percent of his wealth to both the Gates Foundation and other notable groups.
GEORGE SOROS – LIFETIME DONATIONS $8 BILLION
As the current chairman of the Open Society Foundations, Soros has an active role in the management and direction of the charitable foundation he created in 1979. As an ardent promoter of human rights, Soros is passionate about numerous causes including giving scholarships to black South Africans affected by the apartheid.