Several American philanthropists have opened their wallets amid the pandemic to help stop the spread of COVID-19 as well as mitigate its effects.
However, no one offered money like Mackenzie Scott, who attacked the philanthropic world after her divorce from Jeff Bezos in 2019. In July and December, she announced that she had distributed a total of $ 5.8 billion to 500 different groups across America.
“I’m still recovering from the surprise,” said the CEO of Goodwill of North Florida that Scott sent in $ 10 million. The scale and frequency of McKinsey Scott’s charitable donations is staggering: In less than a year, it has given more than all but the five largest donors in the country.
Other donors to the pandemic include Bill and Melinda Gates, whose foundation has been at the Vaccination Research Center for years and has pledged $ 1.75 billion over two years. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg donated nearly $ 330 million, with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg contributing at least $ 100 million.
In a year also marked by a turbulent political situation, some philanthropists invested large sums of money in pro-democracy movements. Others continue to focus on long-term challenges, such as reducing poverty or combating climate change.
In total, the 25 billionaires have donated about $ 149 billion to charity in their lives, and they still have nowhere to take them, with Forbes estimating their combined assets at about $ 799 billion.
Our estimates do not include money in an institution that has not done anything yet. We do not include donations pledged but not yet paid, nor funds provided for funds recommended by donors in cases where opaque accounts are tax-exempt.
Only American citizens were selected for the list, which excluded large families like Waltons behind Walmart, or big donors like Hansjörg Wyss, who lives in the US but is a Swiss citizen.
Donations are included until the end of 2020 and the net worth is the official figure as of January 14, 2021.
List of the 25 most generous U.S. donors:
1. Warren Buffett
Donation focus: Health and poverty alleviation
net value: $ 88.8 billion
Lifetime gifts: $ 42.8 billion
The legendary investor has set himself the target of distributing more than 99 percent of his assets and is successfully sticking to his goal. To date, he has donated more than 40 billion. The bulk has gone in the form of annual contributions to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which uses its funds to fight poverty and supports various health initiatives in the United States and developing countries.
“My family’s response and our extraordinary wealth is not guilt, but gratitude,” Buffett said in 2010 when he co-founded The Giving Pledge with the Gates. The initiative aims to convince the world’s billionaires to donate at least half of their assets to charity.
2. Bill and Melinda Gates
Donation focus: Health and poverty alleviation
net value: $ 120.7 billion
Lifetime gifts: 29.8 billion
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was founded two decades ago and generates roughly $ 5 billion a year in profits. In the past year, it has devoted itself aggressively to funding research, treatment, testing and vaccines against COVID-19. It also pledged to contribute $ 1.75 billion over the next two years to provide tools to combat the pandemic and to people in need anywhere.
“Everyone deserves to benefit from the science results for 2020,” Melinda Gates said in a statement in December. Since 2006, Warren Buffett has contributed $ 2 billion to $ 3 billion annually in Berkshire Hathaway shares in the foundation.
3. George Soros
Donation focus: Democracy, education, anti-discrimination and health care
net value: $ 8.6 billion
Lifetime gifts: $ 16.8 billion
Soros Open Society Foundations operate in 120 countries around the world, focusing on consolidating democracy and protecting voter rights. In 2020, it sent $ 140 million out of a total of $ 1.2 billion distributed in 2020 to achieve these goals.
The remaining funds were then used to support economic justice and human rights, combat discrimination, judicial reform, and support investigative and independent journalists. At a time of the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, the foundation pledged $ 37 million to illegal immigrants who have been excluded from any federal aid.
In response to the killing of George Floyd by the police, it pledged an additional $ 220 million to support leaders in black communities across the United States.
4. Michael Bloomberg
Donation focus: Climate change and health
net value: $ 54.9 billion
Lifetime gifts: $ 11.1 billion
The former New York mayor and co-founder of Bloomberg LP has raised more than $ 11 billion in charitable projects focused on climate change, gun control and public health, according to his Bloomberg charity agency.
He has also spent more than $ 1 billion on tobacco control over the past decade, and in 2018 announced a donation of $ 1.8 billion to his alma mater, Johns Hopkins University.
Bloomberg Philanthropies has participated in $ 330 million in covid-19 epidemic control programs and funded a variety of projects from medical research to front-line healthcare.
In September, Bloomberg pledged $ 100 million in student scholarships at four historic medical schools for blacks over the next four years.
5. Charles “Chuck” Finney
Donation focus: Science, human rights and youth
net value: Less than two million dollars
Lifetime gifts: Eight billion dollars
The former billionaire, who decided to give up most of his assets during his life, has finally reached his financial goal. Finney, who co-founded the widely successful Duty Free Shoppers series in 1960, began distributing some of his fortune.
His idea of ”Giving During Your Life” also influenced Bill Gates and Warren Buffett and inspired them to launch The Giving Pledge in 2010. Of the $ 8 billion Finney donated in his life, $ 3.7 billion went to education, including the $ 1 billion he donated. For his alma mater at Cornell University.
In September 2020, Finney and wife Helga closed the Atlantic Philanthropy Foundation after handing over their latest obligations.
6. MacKenzie Scott
Donation focus: Racism, gender and economic inequality
net value: $ 55.2 billion
Lifetime gifts: $ 5.83 billion
In one year of active philanthropy, Scott has crossed many miles. With the help of an unknown number of employees and the consultancy Bridgespan Group, the Gates Foundation, which has 1,600 employees a year, has distributed grants in six months more than usual.
During the Black Lives Matter protests in July, the billionaire announced that it had donated nearly $ 1.7 billion to 116 selected organizations dealing with social inequality in society related to race, sexual orientation, gender, or economic mobility.
In December, Scott revealed that she had provided nearly $ 4.2 billion to 384 organizations in all 50 states, in addition to Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., her team paid special attention to nonprofits working on food insecurity, racial inequality and poverty reduction.
7. Gordon and Betty Moore
Donation focus: Science, environment and education
net value: $ 11.8 billion
Lifetime gifts: $ 5.15 billion
Two decades ago, the longtime co-founder and CEO of the semiconductor giant Intel and his wife launched their own enterprise, funded by Intel stock. The foundation awards approximately $ 270 million annually and is primarily focused on protecting the environment, as it supports efforts to halt the loss of biodiversity.
8. Eli & Edythe Broad
Donation focus: Education, art and science
net value: $ 6.9 billion
Lifetime gifts: $ 2.8 billion
In 2020, a retired construction and insurance mogul and his wife, Edith, gave $ 136 million in a variety of projects. The couple supports education, science, and the arts through their broad foundation. The couple are old Los Angeles citizens and patrons of the arts. In 1984, they founded the Broad Art Foundation, which includes an art library, which has already provided more than 8,500 artworks to 500 museums.
9. Jim and Marilyn Simmons
Donation focus: Scientific research and education
net value: $ 23.5 billion
Lifetime gifts: $ 2.7 billion
A former professor of mathematics, he founded the Quantitative Hedge Fund in the Renaissance of Technology in 1982 and made most of his philanthropic donations for scientific research and education. He and his wife Marilyn then founded The Simons Foundation in 1994, and is a lead investor in the nonprofit Math for America.
The main mission of this organization is to support the recruitment and retention of high quality mathematics and science teachers in secondary schools. The Simons Foundation funds donations with scientific research at institutions such as the New York Genome Center, or supports research into the causes of autism through the non-profit organization Autism Research Institute.
10. Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan
Donation focus: Science, education, criminal justice, and electoral integrity
net value: $ 90 billion
Lifetime gifts: $ 2.7 billion
Last year, Facebook founder and CEO, along with his nonprofit Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), celebrated his fifth birthday on the charity stage. He and his wife, Priscilla Chan, have focused their recent donations on two main areas: fighting the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and election integrity.
To combat Covid, CZI donated more than $ 100 million in 2020 and has funded a variety of projects, from increasing testing capacity in California to co-financing the development of treatment methods with the Gates Foundation. However, that amount was overshadowed by the $ 400 million, which, according to the annual letter, CZI donated to non-partisan organizations dedicated to “enabling voters to cast their votes safely and without risk.”
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