A philanthropist is someone who engages in philanthropy; donating their time, money, and/or reputation to charitable causes. The term may apply to any volunteer or to anyone who makes a donation, but the label is most often applied to those who donate large sums of money or who make a major impact through their volunteering, such as a trustee who manages a philanthropic organization or one who establishes and funds a foundation.
A philanthropist may not always find universal approval for their deeds. Common accusations include supporting an unworthy cause (such as funding art instead of fighting world hunger) or having selfish motivation at heart (such as avoiding taxes or attaining personal fame). A philanthropist is also someone who cares for someone else's needs instead of their own.
- Abdul Rahman Al-Sumait – founder of Direct Aid, a charity organization that has built 124 hospitals and dispensaries, 840 schools, 204 Islamic centers, 214 women training centers and 2,200 mosques in Africa, has distributed thousands of tons of food and medicines in famine-stricken areas, and has adopted nearly 10,000 orphans.
- Abdul Sattar Edhi – co-head of the Edhi Foundation in Pakistan
- Achyuta Samanta – founder of the Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS)
- Ailsa Mellon-Bruce – co-founder of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
- Alagappa Chettiar – notable for work on Indian education
- Anne-Françoise de Fougeret (1745-1813) – a French philanthropist
- Alfred Nobel – founder of the Nobel Prizes
- Alicia Keys – American singer/songwriter; spokeswoman for Keep A Child Alive
- Amal Hijazi – Lebanese singer, known for her philanthropy
- Andrew Carnegie – founder of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Carnegie Institution for Science, Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, Carnegie Hero Fund, Carnegie United Kingdom Trust, Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, Carnegie Mellon University, and the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh. He also donated money to build over 2500 public libraries worldwide, the Carnegie Hall in New York, and the Peace Palace at The Hague
- Angelina Jolie – American actress; known for her humanitarian work worldwide; a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Refugee Agency
- Anthony Ashley Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury – chairman of the Ragged Schools Union (during the Victorian era)
- Anthony J. Drexel – founder of Drexel University
- Arpad Busson – founder of Ark (Absolute Return for Kids) Academy
- Belinda Stronach – co-founder of Spread the Net
- Ben Delo – took The Giving Pledge
- Bill Ackman – in 2011, the Ackmans were among The Chronicle of Philanthropy's "Philanthropy 50" list of the most generous donors
- Bill Gates – co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
- Bilquis Edhi – co-head of the Edhi Foundation in Pakistan
- Bono – one of the world's best-known philanthropic performers; named the most politically effective celebrity of all time by the National Journal
- Cari Tuna – co-founded Good Ventures
- Catherine T. MacArthur – co-founder of the MacArthur Foundation
- Charles Garland – gave up most of his family inheritance in 1922 in order to establish the Garland Fund to promote radical charitable causes
- Charles Pratt – founder of Pratt Institute
- Charles Simonyi – founder of Charles and Lisa Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences, $100 million
- Chris Martin – lead singer of British alternative rock band Coldplay; known for supporting the Make Trade Fair campaign; he and his band contribute 15% of their money to charity
- Christopher Reeve – founder of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation
- Chuck Feeney – founder of Atlantic Philanthropies
- Cornelius Vanderbilt – founder of the Vanderbilt University
- Dame Shirley Porter – Tesco heiress; co-founder of The Porter Foundation; has donated to Tel Aviv University, social welfare facilities and ecological funding, the National Portrait Gallery in London
- David Bohnett – founder of the David Bohnett Foundation supporting a wide range of social issues including LGBT rights
- David Gilmour – singer and guitarist of Pink Floyd; was made CBE for his years of philanthropy; gave $7.5 million from sale of his London home to the homeless charity Crisis
- David Koch – founder of the David H. Koch Charitable Foundation; listed by The Chronicle of Philanthropy as one of the world's top 50 philanthropists in 2013
- Demi Lovato – provides the Lovato Treatment Scholarship; supporter of 13 different charity organization; an official Ambassador for the youth empowerment event We Day and the organization Free the Children
- Dolly Parton – country singer; advocate for children's education through her foundation, the Imagination Library, which gives books to children to develop their reading skills before starting school.
- Don Ball – Co-founder of Ballhomes, founder of Hope Center
- Donald Rix – BC Innovation Council, BC Cancer Agency Foundation, BC Medical Services Foundation, and the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation
- Dr. Mo Ibrahim – founder of telecom company Celtel International; set up the Mo Ibrahim Foundation to encourage better governance in Africa, and providing higher education scholarships for leadership and management for Africans; initiated the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership
- Dustin Moskovitz – co-founded Good Ventures
- Edward Harkness – various private colleges and boarding schools; medical facilities; Commonwealth Fund
- Elinor Sauerwein – Salvation Army philanthropist
- Ellen Gates Starr – founder of the biomedical institute that bears his name Hull House
- Elon Musk – chairman of the Musk Foundation
- Elton John – has raised more than US$125 million just for the Elton John AIDS Foundation. In 2004 he donated over US$43 million to organizations around the world, making him the most generous person in music for that year, "a title he retains year after year." In 1997 he raised US$40 million for charity through sales of the single "Candle in the Wind 1997". He currently supports at least 57 charities.
- Enriqueta Augustina Rylands – founder of the John Rylands Library
- Fazle Hasan Abed – founder of BRAC
- Frank F Islam – information technology entrepreneur, working to improve education system. $2 million invested in Aligarh Muslim University for a separate business school.
- Gary Sinise – co-founder of Operation Iraqi Children
- George Clooney – known for humanitarian work in aiding the Darfur conflict, organizing Hope for Haiti Now, and involvement in Not On Our Watch
- George Peabody – considered by some[who?] the father of modern philanthropy, helped to found cultural institutions in the United States and England
- George Soros – estimated to have donated more than US$32 billion, often through the Open Society Institute and Soros Foundations
- Godwin Maduka – doctor and founder of Las Vegas Pain Institute and Medical Center
- H. F. Lenfest – donated $5 million in coherence with Chester County to preserve over 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) of land in Newlin Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania; the land is now owned by Natural Lands Trust
- Henry Ford – co-founder of the Ford Foundation
- Henry W. Bloch – founder of H&R Block Tax company. Henry established the nationally acclaimed Marion Bloch Neuroscience Institute, formed the Marion and Henry Bloch Family Foundation one of the largest family foundations in the region (Midwest) and many other places in the Kansas City community
- Hilmar Reksten – Norwegian shipping magnate, tax evader, patron of the arts
- Holden Karnofsky – co-founder and board member of the charity evaluator GiveWell and the executive director of the Open Philanthropy Project
- Howard Ahmanson, Jr. – multi-millionaire philanthropist and financier of the causes of many conservative Christian cultural, religious and political organizations
- Howard Hughes – aviator, engineer, industrialist and film producer; donated US$1.56 billion to various charities including the Howard Hughes Medical Institute
- Iain Percy – co-founder of the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation which was set up after the death of his best friend Andrew Simpson to facilitate children's access to sailing
- Imran Khan – founder of the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust, which was behind the first cancer research institution in Pakistan
- Irwin M. Jacobs – has contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to the field of education through donations and grants to schools and organizations
- Isaac Wolfson – managing director of Great Universal Stores
- J. Paul Getty – funded the construction of the Getty Villa, the original Getty Museum, and donated his art collection to it; upon his death, left his fortune to the Getty Museum, which eventually expanded to the Getty Center in Los Angeles
- J.K. Rowling – President of One Parent Families; advocate for social equity
- James E. Stowers – founder of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research
- James Packer – jointly with his majority-owned company Crown Resorts pledged $200 million over 10 years to support Australian community groups
- Jamie and Karen Phelps Moyer – founded the Moyer Foundation to assist non-profit organizations in raising money for children with serious distress
- Jane Addams – co-founder of the Hull House settlement house in Chicago
- Janet Lacey – English charity director of Christian Aid
- Jimmy Donaldson – also known by his YouTube channel name as MrBeast, was one of the co-founders of Team Trees
- Joe Blackman – dedicated much of his youth to helping young people start their own businesses
- John Cena – Wrestler, actor, television personality, philanthropist under Make-A-Wish Foundation
- John D. MacArthur – co-founder of the MacArthur Foundation
- John D. Rockefeller – founder of the University of Chicago, Rockefeller University, Central Philippine University, General Education Board, and Rockefeller Foundation
- John D. Rockefeller III – major third-generation Rockefeller philanthropist; founder of the Asia Society (1956), the Population Council (1952) and a reconstituted Japan Society; chairman of the Rockefeller Foundation for 20 years; established the Rockefeller Public Service Awards in 1958
- John D. Rockefeller Jr. – expanded the Rockefeller Foundation and Rockefeller University; bought and then donated the land in Manhattan upon which the United Nations headquarters was built
- John Harvard – one of the founders of Harvard College
- John Peele Clapham (1801–1875) – founder of Salem Chapel, Burley in Wharfedale, a founder of West Park United Reformed Church, Harrogate, founder of various Sunday schools, editor of hymn book.
- John R. Hunting – major contributor to liberal or progressive 527 organizations
- John Studzinski – champion of the homeless and the arts in the UK; founder and owner of the Genesis Foundation
- Johns Hopkins – founder of the Johns Hopkins University and the Johns Hopkins Hospital
- Jon Bon Jovi – American rock star; founder of The Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation in 2006
- Joseph Rowntree – founder of the four Rowntree trusts
- Juliette Gordon Low – founded Girl Scouts of the USA in 1912 in Savannah, Georgia
- Julius Curtis Lewis, Jr. – made an estimated lifetime donations of US$130 million to various civic, spiritual; charitable organizations, many in Savannah, Georgia
- Kenneth C. Griffin – founder and CEO of Citadel LLC; co-founder of the Kenneth and Anne Griffin Foundation
- Lady Gaga – founder of the Born This Way Foundation, a charity started in 2011
- Larry Ellison – pledged to give more than half the value of his stock in Oracle Corporation to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
- Levi Strauss – gave to many notable foundations of his time; gave to many Jewish synagogues and organizations
- Li Ka-shing – founder and chairman of the Li Ka Shing Foundation, which focuses on capacity empowerment through education and building of a caring society through medical and healthcare related projects; in 2006, pledged to donate one-third of his fortune estimated at over US$10 billion to philanthropic projects
- Linus Pauling – donated time and effort and spent personal funds to bring about the worldwide ban on above-ground nuclear weapons testing
- Lucia Hou – was awarded the 2018 Woman of Year internationally by World Class Beauty Queen for her philanthropy work around the world
- Marc Benioff – created the 1-1-1 model of integrated corporate philanthropy, by which companies contribute 1 percent of equity, 1 percent of employee hours, and 1 percent of product back to the community
- Marian Tompson – co-founder of La Leche League International, a breastfeeding support organization
- Mariah Carey – Police Athletic League of New York City, Obstetrics, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, World Food Programme, LGBT community, America: A Tribute to Heroes, Kosovo, Live 8 concert, London, Hurricane Katrina, Just Stand Up!, Stand Up to Cancer, The Fresh Air Fund, and China Covid-19
- Mark Zuckerberg – co-founder of social media network Facebook
- Mary Lee Ware – principal sponsor of the Harvard Museum of Natural History's famous Glass Flowers exhibit; a key player in the creation of the New Hampshire Rhododendron State Park
- Mary Louise Milliken Childs – builder of the Milliken Memorial Community House, the first privately donated community house in America
- Melinda Gates – co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
- Metallica – All Within My Hands Foundation, dedicated to creating sustainable communities by supporting workforce education, the fight against hunger, and other critical local services. They also donate a portion of ticket sales in every city visited a local charity (predominantly food banks)
- Michael Bloomberg – donations include over US$1.1 billion to Johns Hopkins University
- Michael Dell – established the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, which focuses on grants, urban education, childhood health, and family economic stability
- Michael Jackson – donated more than US$500 million to various foundations and won numerous awards for his humanitarianism; founded the Heal the World Foundation
- Michelle Dilhara – Sri Lankan actress
- Milton Hershey – founded the Milton Hershey School for lower-income children; invested millions of dollars
- Mohamed Al-Fayed – founder of The New School at West Heath
- Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum – founder of the Mohammed bin Rashid Global Initiatives, a grouping of some 33 charities, awards and philanthropic entities.
- Mr. T – actor; motivational speaker; donated all his gold to charity
- Nicholas Murray Butler – president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1925-1945
- Oprah Winfrey – estimated donations above US$300 million, and founder of Oprah's Angel Network
- P. K. Subban – Canadian ice hockey player; donated $10 million to the Montreal Children's Hospital
- Paul Mellon – major benefactor of arts and education; co-founder of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
- Paul Newman – founder of Newman's Own and the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp for seriously ill children; major donations to other charities
- Paul Walker – founder of the charity Reach Out Worldwide
- Peter Cooper – set up a free college in New York City to help poor people ambitious to improve themselves; Thomas Edison was an early alum
- Petra Němcová – Czech supermodel; founder of the Happy Hearts Fund
- Phil Knight – co-founder of Nike, Inc.; supporter of Oregon Health & Science University, Stanford University and the University of Oregon
- Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal – chairman of investment firm Kingdom Holding Company; pledged US$32bn donation to his philanthropy organization Alwaleed Philanthropies
- Prince Karim Aga Khan IV – founder and chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network which focuses on health, education, culture, rural development, institution-building and the promotion of economic development
- Princess Bernice Pauahi – left properties to the education of Hawaiian boys and girls in what is now Kamehameha Schools
- Raymond and Ruth Perelman – parents of Ronald O. Perelman; in 2011 donated $225 million to the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, the largest donation in that university's history
- Richard Desmond – President of the Norwood Charity; raised around £14m for charitable causes with the RD Crusaders; helped build the Richard Desmond Children's Eye Centre part of Moorfields Eye Hospital
- Rizwan Hussain – barrister, television presenter, international humanitarian worker; former Hindi music singer and producer; known for presenting Islamic and charity shows on Channel S and Islam Channel
- Robert Bass – large donations with wife Ann to Yale University, including the building of the Bass Library at Yale, and numerous other groups including the Brookings Institute, Duke University and Stanford University where Mr. Bass is on the board of trustees.
- Ronald O. Perelman – largest Revlon stockholder; has donated over $200 million to various causes since 2001, including a $50 million gift to create the Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Cornell Medical Center; signed the Gates-Buffett Pledge in August 2010, committing up to half his assets to be designated for the benefit of charitable causes (after his family and children have been provided for)
- Ruth Pfau – head of the Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre in Pakistan; as a result of her efforts, the World Health Organization declared leprosy a controlled disease in Pakistan in 1996
- Samuel Morley MP – founded Morley College, London; endowed other institutions and causes
- Sandro Salsano – chairman of Salsano Group; founder of Salsano Shahani Foundation
- Sean Parker – donated $600 million to launch the Parker Foundation, which focuses on three areas: Life Sciences, Global Public Health and Civic Engagement ; and donated $250 million to create the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy
- Shahrukh Khan – the only Indian to receive UNESCO Pyramide con Marni award for his charity work in 2011
- Shakira – founder of Pies Descalzos Foundation
- Sidney Myer – founder of the Australian Department store chain Myer
- Sir Charles Henry de Soysa – Ceylonese entrepreneur who pioneered a multitude of medical, educational, religious and infrastructure projects
- Sir Cliff Richard – one of the vice-presidents of Tearfund, a British religious, relief and development agency; supports The Hunger Project, Kidney Research UK, Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, Teenage Cancer Trust, Cliff Richard Tennis Foundation, Alzheimer's Research UK; opened two new purpose-built buildings for Self Unlimited, a national charity for people with learning disabilities
- Sir David Robinson – founder of the Robinson Charitable Trust and Robinson College
- Sir Ganesh Dutt – longest-serving minister in British Empire who gave all his earnings to charitable works, especially education
- Sir Run Run Shaw – founder of the Shaw Prize Foundation
- Steve Wozniak – provided the money, and some technical support, for technology program for the Los Gatos School district; co-founder of Apple Computer (now Apple Inc.)
- Sunil Bharti Mittal – set up Bharti Foundation which runs schools for 30,000 underprivileged children in rural India
- Tarek Ben Halim – investment banker and founder of Alfanar in 2004, the first Venture philanthropy organization with a special focus on the Arab world
- Thomas Holloway – Victorian patent medicine entrepreneur and founder of Royal Holloway, University of London
- Ty Pennington – host of ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition; advocate of doing good towards others in need and to those who give of themselves for the sake of others
- Usher Raymond – American singer/songwriter; founding Chairman of the New Look Foundation; advocate for social justice
- Vernon Hill – founder of Commerce Bank and President of Metro Bank; donated $10m to the Penns School of Veterinary Medicine
- Vijay Eswaran – founder of RYTHM foundation and Q NET
- Vitalik Buterin – Inventor of Ethereum, donated $1.14 billion USD worth of crypto currency to India Crypto Covid Relief, amongst other regular large donations.
- Virginia Weiffenbach Kettering – Dayton, Ohio's leading philanthropist and patron of the arts
- Warren Buffett – pledged US$30.7 billion worth of Berkshire Hathaway stock to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
- Werner Reinhart – industrialist, philanthropist, music and literature patron
- William Allen – founded and endowed many institutions and causes including 'Schools of Industry' at Lindfield and Newington Academy for Girls
- William Henry Vanderbilt – co-founder of the Metropolitan Opera
- William Wilberforce – English politician; headed successful parliamentary campaign against the British slave trade; later supported the campaign for complete abolition
- Yusuf Islam (also known as Cat Stevens) – founder of Islamic schools, Muslim Aid and Small Kindness
Greatest philanthropists by amount of USD
The following table orders the greatest philanthropists by the estimated amount given to charity, corresponding to USD.
|Bill Gates||$35.8 billion||Healthcare, extreme poverty, education, access to information technology|
|Warren Buffett||$34 billion||Healthcare, education, AIDS-prevention, sanitation|
|George Soros||$32 billion||Healthcare, anti-fascist publications, human rights, economic, legal, and social reform|
|Azim Premji||$21 billion||Education, healthcare|
|Li Ka-shing||$10.7 billion||Education, healthcare|
|Andrew Carnegie||$9.5 billion||Libraries, education, peace|
|Chuck Feeney||$6.8 billion||Healthcare, youth, ageing, poverty, human rights|
|MacKenzie Scott||$6 billion||Racial equality, LGBTQ+ equality, functional democracy, and climate change|
|Alwaleed Philanthropies||$4 billion||Alwaleed Philanthropies collaborates with a range of philanthropic, government and educational organizations to combat poverty, empower women and youth, develop communities, provide disaster relief and create cultural understanding through education.|
|Phil Knight||$2 billion||Education, healthcare, intercollegiate athletics|
|James E. Stowers||$2 billion||Healthcare|
|Howard Hughes||$1.56 billion||Healthcare|
|Look up philanthropist in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- List of wealthiest charitable foundations
- Charitable organization
- Development charities
- Foundation (nonprofit)
- Non-profit organization
- For a longer list of philanthropists, see Category: Philanthropists.
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