With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, many renowned philanthropists have been pledging fractions of their fortunes to help communities recover from the devastating impacts of the deadly virus. Top donors such as MacKenzie Scott, Eugene Melnyk, and Bill and Melinda Gates have taken the philanthropy world by storm across the past year. The latter’s foundation, which has focused on vaccine research, has committed no less than $1.75 billion for pandemic relief.
These philanthropists have impressive CVs when it comes to supporting different groups of people around the world historically, with some committed to donating large parts of their wealth to communities and causes that require support.
The world’s top philanthropists have ample resources to help others have fulfilling lives, and they have the funds to make a significant difference in communities across the globe. Here, we take a look at some of the top philanthropists and the causes they are committed to, they are the ones to watch in 2021.
As the CEO and chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett is now the seventh richest billionaire globally. He has donated large portions of his fortune to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Howard G. Buffett Foundation, and Sherwood Foundation.
Warren Buffett has not given up on his quest to give over 99 percent of his fortune to charity before his demise. With a net worth of $88.8 billion, he has donated over $45 billion in his life so far, with his primary focus aimed at giving towards healthcare and poverty alleviation. So far, Buffett has donated over $40 billion to The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as annual gifts. The foundation has put Buffett’s money into health and poverty initiatives across the United States and developing countries.
Eugene Melnyk is a Canadian philanthropist, businessman, and the current chairman of the National Hockey League’s (NHL’s) Ottawa Senators. As the founder, former CEO, and chairman of Biovail Corporation, Melnyk has a net worth of $1.20 billion. As one of Canada’s richest billionaires, Melnyk has invested millions of dollars in many causes, including philanthropy. He is involved with several charitable organisations, and his primary focus is to help children and the elderly.
He donated $1.8 million to Ontario’s St. Michael’s College School to upgrade its field with stadium lights, a sound system, and an electronic scoreboard. Melnyk is also the honorary director of Help Us Help the Children (HUHC) with the charity benefitting from Melnyk’s annual donation of clothing and medical supplies. He also donated $1 million to Belmont Child Care Association to construct a child care centre at Belmont Park, New York City.
Bill and Melinda Gates
Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, has made headlines for his philanthropic acts. With a net worth of $133 billion, Bill Gates has given away roughly $50 billion towards many charitable causes over the years, donating the money to non-profit organisations.
Bill and his wife Melinda Gates founded The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000 to improve the quality of people’s lives globally, and it currently makes around $5 billion in grants annually. The foundation has provided many things, such as healthcare support in Nigeria and educational resources in Chicago and now the foundation funds research, tests, treatments, and vaccines for Covid-19. It pledged pandemic relief funds worth $1.75 billion, which is set to be spent over two years.
As the world’s most famous philanthropists, Bill and Melinda Gates look forward to making the world a better place, and their common goal to give back to the community has also strengthened their connection as a couple.
Jeffrey Skoll is a Canadian engineer, film producer, and Internet entrepreneur. As the first president of eBay, he acquired a lot of wealth from the company and used part of his fortune for philanthropic causes, setting up the Skoll Foundation and Participant Media.
As a renowned philanthropist, Skoll is a Giving Pledge signatory and recipient of the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy. As the current chairman, he has donated $1 billion of his eBay stocks towards the Skoll Foundation since its establishment in 1999. The foundation focuses on supporting social entrepreneurship and it ranks as the largest foundation supporting social entrepreneurship globally. Skoll has been working for more than ten years to help prevent global threats, such as pandemics and climate change.
In 2009, this Canadian billionaire donated $100 million to establish the Skoll Global Threats Fund. He also donated $20 million in January 2020 and $100 million more in April to the Skoll Foundation to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
Michael Bloomberg is one of the richest philanthropists in the United States. With a net worth of $54.9 billion, Bloomberg has donated over $11 billion to charitable causes. His giving focuses on climatic change, public health, and gun control in the country. In 2018, Bloomberg donated $767 million to his alma mater Johns Hopkins University and even pledged an additional $1.8 billion, which he will pay in 2021. The Bloomberg Philanthropies has also given out over $330 million to Covid-19 research programmes.
The former New York City mayor also donated funds to pay for meals for frontline healthcare workers and in September 2020, he pledged $100 million to fund scholarships at four historically black medical schools over the next four years. Generally, Bloomberg is a perfect example of a philanthropist who understands that giving beyond yourself can make you live a fulfilling life. That’s why he uses his fortune in a manner that aligns with his life’s work.
George Soros is a Hungarian-born American philanthropist and billionaire investor. This hedge fund manager became a famous philanthropist when he transferred more than $23 billion of his wealth to his charitable foundation, the Open Society Foundations. Open Society Foundations operates in 120 countries globally, focusing extensively on promoting democracy and protecting voters’ rights. In 2020, Soros budgeted $140 million for the two causes. He has also donated millions to other charitable causes.
The foundation’s other causes include anti-discrimination, economic equity, journalism, human rights, and justice reform. In the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, the foundation committed $220 million to support black leaders across the U.S. When Covid-19 hit hard, the Open Society Foundations committed $37 million for all undocumented immigrants not receiving financial assistance from the U.S. federal aid. Soros’ Open Society Foundations donated roughly $1.2 billion in 2020.
After divorcing Jeff Bezos in 2019, MacKenzie Scott has donated billions of dollars for philanthropic causes. As of January 2021, Scott’s net worth was reaching $57.5 billion and in her entire lifetime, she has donated roughly $5.83 billion to various charitable causes.
Scott’s donations focus on averting racial discrimination, income inequality and food insecurity. By July 2020, she had given away around $1.7 billion to 116 organisations focusing on societal inequalities related to race, gender, sexual orientation, and economic mobility. In December 2020, Scott announced that she had donated nearly $4.2 billion to around 384 organisations across the United States.