Let’s take a look at the business leaders who strive to create a better world through philanthropy.
Philanthropy has always been a vital component of business, with many successful business leaders leveraging their wealth and influence to give back to society. Their charitable endeavors have inspired others to follow in their footsteps. According to a study by Fidelity Charitable in 2018, most entrepreneurs consider philanthropy a fundamental part of their identity and their median level of philanthropic contributions is 50 percent higher than that of non-entrepreneurs. These findings highlight that entrepreneurs believe charitable activities are an important part of their success.
In this article, we will explore the practice of philanthropy in the corporate sector and highlight accomplished business leaders who have made a positive impact through their charitable efforts.
Warren Buffett, a highly-successful American businessman and investor, is renowned for his exceptional wealth creation and investment prowess. He is the Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, a multinational conglomerate holding company with a net worth of over US$100 billion. In addition to his business acumen, Buffett is well-known for his philanthropic contributions.
Buffett co-founded “The Giving Pledge” campaign with Bill and Melinda Gates, where billionaires commit to donating at least half of their wealth to charitable causes. However, Buffett’s commitment goes far beyond that, as he has pledged to give away more than 99 percent of his wealth to philanthropic causes during his lifetime or upon his death. He has decided to leave only a small portion—less than 1%—of his estimated US$86-90 billion fortune to his children. Buffett has also recently donated over US$750 million in the form of Berkshire Hathaway stock to several foundations run by his family.
Microsoft co-Founder Bill Gates has become a renowned philanthropist who dedicates his time and resources to giving back to the world. In 2000, he created the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation by merging the two foundations he had established earlier: the William H. Gates Foundation, founded in 1994 and the Gates Learning Foundation, founded in 1997. The Foundation has become one of the largest and most influential private philanthropic organizations in the world, with a mission to improve healthcare and education for children worldwide.
To begin this journey, Gates and his ex-wife Melinda donated a staggering US$28 billion to the Foundation, and they continue to contribute more than US$1 billion annually, with the plan to give away 95 percent of their wealth eventually.
In July 2022, Gates announced that he would donate a substantial amount of US$20 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This donation brings the total combined contributions by both Gates and Melinda to the foundation and its earlier iteration to US$39 billion since 1994.
Michael Bloomberg is the Founder of Bloomberg L.P. (a financial data and media company), author and politician known for his philanthropic efforts in various causes, such as gun control, climate change, the opioid crisis, public health and other causes.
Bloomberg made his biggest donation in 2018 with a US$1.8 billion gift to his alma mater, Johns Hopkins University. The single largest investment in the history of higher education in the U.S., that brought his total contribution to Johns Hopkins to over US$3.35 billion.
In 2006, he founded Bloomberg Philanthropies which uses a data-driven approach to focus its support in areas like the arts, education, the environment, public health and government innovation. It has launched the Greenwood Initiative to “accelerate the pace of wealth accumulation for Black individuals and families and address decades of underinvestment in these communities”, as per its website. Bloomberg has also pledged to donate a significant portion of his profits from Bloomberg L.P. to Bloomberg Philanthropies.
Mark Zuckerberg, the co-Founder and CEO of Facebook (now Meta), is known for his efforts to support education and healthcare initiatives. He founded the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), a limited liability company he founded with his wife, Priscilla Chan, in 2015. CZI focuses on several key areas, including education reform, biomedical advancements, immigration reform and housing affordability. Through a blend of charitable contributions, personal investment and policy advocacy, CZI aims to improve the education system, advance global development, drive health initiatives and influence criminal justice policy.
In 2015, the couple committed to donating 99 percent of their Facebook stock to various causes such as battling illness, enhancing education and fostering strong communities. They also outlined their aspirations of advancing human potential and promoting equality.
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, the Executive Chairperson of Biocon Limited, a Bengaluru-based biotech company, is a notable philanthropist who has established several charitable initiatives to support healthcare. The Biocon Foundation, founded by Shaw, aims to transform primary healthcare in rural India. The Foundation has adopted numerous Primary Health Centers (PHCs) and upgraded them into technology-enabled centers with telemedicine links to doctors based in major cities.
In addition to her work with the Foundation, Shaw has used her philanthropy to create the Mazumdar-Shaw Cancer Centre, a 1,400-bed cancer care facility located in Bangalore, in partnership with Dr. Devi Shetty, a renowned healthcare entrepreneur and philanthropist. The center provides high-quality treatment and care to patients in need. In 2016, Shaw made history by becoming the second Indian to join “The Giving Pledge” initiative.
These leaders have demonstrated that success in the business world can be leveraged to create a positive social impact. By engaging in philanthropy, they have set a shining example of how individuals can use their wealth, resources and influence to bring about positive change in the world. Their actions serve as an inspiration for others to follow in their footsteps and use their privilege and power for the betterment of humanity.
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