A philanthropist is someone who engages in philanthropy; that is, someone who donates his or her 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.
A philanthropist may not always find universal approval for his/her 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.
- Bill Ackman - in 2011, the Ackmans were among The Chronicle of Philanthropy's "Philanthropy 50" list of the most generous donors.
- Jane Addams - co-founder of the Hull House settlement house in Chicago.
- 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.
- Howard Ahmanson, Jr. - multi-millionaire philanthropist and financier of the causes of many conservative Christian cultural, religious and political organizations.
- William Allen - founded and endowed many institutions and causes including 'Schools of Industry' at Lindfield and Newington Academy for Girls.
- Tarek Ben Halim - investment banker and founder of Alfanar in 2004, the first Venture philanthropy organization with a special focus on the Arab Region.
- 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 communities it serves.
- Avie Bennett
- Leonard Blavatnik
- Michael Bloomberg - donations include over USD$1.1 billion to Johns Hopkins University.
- David Bohnett - founder of the David Bohnett Foundation supporting a wide range of social issues including LGBT rights
- Jon Bon Jovi - American rock star. Founder of The Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation in 2006
- Bono - one of the world's best-known philanthropic performers and was named the most politically effective celebrity of all time by the National Journal. H
- Richard Branson
- Eli Broad
- Edgar Bronfman Sr.
- Warren Buffett - pledged US$30.7 billion worth of Berkshire Hathaway stock to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
- Arpad Busson - founder of Ark (Absolute Return for Kids) Academy.
- Nicholas Murray Butler - president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace from 1925 to 1945.
- Andrew Carnegie - donated money to build over 2500 libraries worldwide. Founder of the Carnegie Foundations, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Carnegie Mellon University.
- Alagappa Chettiar - notable for his work on Indian education.
- George Clooney - known for his humanitarian work in aiding the Darfur conflict, organizing Hope for Haiti Now, his involvement in Not On Our Watch
- Anthony Ashley Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury - chairman of the Ragged Schools Union (during the Victorian era).
- Peter Cooper - Peter Cooper's great goal in setting up a free college in New York City was to boost up poor people ambitious to improve themselves. Thomas Edison was an early alum.
- Michael Dell - established the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, which focuses on, among other causes, grants, urban education, childhood health and family economic stability.
- 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.
- Walt Disney - helped to fund California Institute of the Arts
- Anthony J. Drexel - founder of Drexel University
- Sir Ganesh Dutt - Longest-serving minister in British Empire who gave all his earnings to charitable works, especially education.
- Maulana Dr. Abdul Sattar Edhi - head of the Edhi Foundation in Pakistan.
- Larry Ellison - pledged to give more than half the value of his stock in Oracle Corporation to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
- Vijay Eswaran - founder of RYTHM foundation also a business man founder of Q NET
- Fazle Hasan Abed - founder of BRAC.
- Mohamed Al-Fayed - founder of The New School at West Heath.
- Chuck Feeney - founder of Atlantic Philanthropies.
- Edsel Ford - co-founder of the Ford Foundation.
- Henry Ford - co-founder of the Ford Foundation.
- Kenneth Ford - founder of the Ford Family Foundation.
- Bill Gates - co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
- Melinda Gates - co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
- 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.
- David Gilmour - singer and guitarist of Pink Floyd who was made CBE for his years of philanthropy and gave $7.5 million from sale of his London home to the homeless charity Crisis
- Kenneth C. Griffin - founder and CEO Citadel LLC. Co-founder of the Kenneth and Anne Griffin Foundation.
- Solomon R. Guggenheim
- John Harvard - one of the founders of Harvard College
- Edward Harkness - various private colleges and boarding schools; medical facilities; Commonwealth Fund
- Milton Hershey - founded The Milton Hershey School for lower income children, invested millions of dollars.
- Amal Hijazi - Lebanese singer, known for her philanthropy
- Vernon Hill - founder of Commerce Bank and President of Metro Bank; gave a $10m donation to the Penns School of Veterinary Medicine
- George Edward Hilt, founder of the nation's largest farm-store retailer.
- Thomas Holloway - Victorian patent medicine entrepreneur and founder of Royal Holloway, University of London
- Johns Hopkins - founder of the Johns Hopkins University and the Johns Hopkins Hospital
- Howard Hughes - aviator, engineer, industrialist and film producer, donated US$1.56 billion to various charities including the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
- 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.
- Dr. Mo Ibrahim - founder of telecom company Celtel International in 1998. Set up the Mo Ibrahim Foundation to encourage better governance in Africa, and providing higher education scholarships for leadership and management for Africans. In 2007 he initiated the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, which awards a $5 million initial payment, and a $200,000 annual payment for life to African heads of state who deliver security, health, education and economic development to their constituents and democratically transfer power to their successors.
- Yusuf Islam (also known as Cat Stevens) - founder of Islamic schools, Muslim Aid and Small Kindness.
- Michael Jackson - donated more than US$500 million to various foundations and won numerous awards for his humanitarianism. He also founded the Heal the World Foundation.
- Irwin M. Jacobs - has contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to the field of education through donations and grants to several schools and organizations.
- 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 "Goodbye England's Rose." He currently supports at least 57 charities.
- Angelina Jolie - American actress, known for her humanitarian worldwide and also a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Refugee Agency
- Maxwell M. Kalman
- Alicia Keys - American singer/songwriter and spokeswoman for Keep A Child Alive.
- Imran Khan - founder of the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust which was behind the first cancer research institution in Pakistan.
- Shahrukh Khan - The only Indian to receive Unesco Pyramide con Marni award for his charity work in 2011.
- Phil Knight - co-founder of Nike, Inc., supporter of Oregon Health & Science University, Stanford University and the University of Oregon
- 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.
- Lady Gaga - founder of the Born This Way Foundation, a charity started in 2011.
- Ronald Lauder
- 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, PA. The land is now owned by Natural Lands Trust.
- Julius Curtis Lewis, Jr. - estimated lifetime donations of US$130 million to various civic, spiritual; charitable organizations. Many in Savannah, Georgia.
- 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, Li pledged to donate one-third of his fortune estimated at over US$10 billion to philanthropic projects.
- Demi Lovato - provides "Lovato Treatment Scholarship" and supporter of 13 different charity organization. also serves as an official Ambassador for the youth empowerment event We Day and the organization Free the Children.
- Juliette Gordon Low - also known as "Daisy", founded Girl Scouts of the USA in 1912 in Savannah, GA.
- Catherine T. MacArthur - co-founder of the MacArthur Foundation.
- John D. MacArthur - co-founder of the MacArthur Foundation.
- Budi Margono - co-founder of the Michael B Margono Foundation.
- Josephine Marks
- Chris Martin - lead singer of British alternative rock band Coldplay. He is known for supporting the Make Trade Fair campaign. He and his band also contribute 15% of their money to charity.
- Paul Mellon - major benefactor of arts and education, and co-founder of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
- Ailsa Mellon-Bruce - co-founder of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
- Mary Louise Milliken Childs - builder of the Milliken Memorial Community House, the first privately donated community house in America.
- Sunil Bharti Mittal - set up Bharti Foundation that runs schools for 30,000 underprivileged children in rural India
- Samuel Morley MP - founded Morley College, London and endowed other institutions and causes.
- Jamie and Karen Phelps Moyer - founded the Moyer Foundation to assist non-profit organizations in raising money for children with serious distresses.
- Sidney Myer - founder of the Australian Department store chain Myer.
- Petra N?mcová - Czech supermodel who is the founder of the Happy Hearts Fund
- Paul Newman - Founder of Newman's Own and the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp for seriously ill children, as well as major donations to other charities.
- Alfred Nobel - founder of the Nobel Prizes.
- James Packer - jointly with his majority-owned company Crown Resorts pledged $200 million over 10 years to support Australian community groups
- Dolly Parton - country singer is an advocate for children's education through her foundation, the Imagination Library, which gives books to children on a regular basis to develop their reading skills before starting school.
- Princess Bernice Pauahi - left properties to the education of Hawaiian boys and girls in what is now Kamehameha Schools.
- Linus Pauling - donated time and effort and spent personal funds to bring about the worldwide ban on above ground nuclear weapons testing.
- Ty Pennington - host of ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and advocate of doing good towards others in need and to those who give of themselves for the sake of others.
- Raymond and Ruth Perelman - parents of Ronald O. Perelman (below), they donated $225 million to the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, the largest donation in that university's history, in 2011.
- 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). A recent Forbes 400 article discusses Ronald and Raymond (listed directly above) Perelman's father-son relationship and extensive philanthropy in detail.
- 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 and provide opportunities for them to pursue the sport, removing barriers that made it difficult to access sailing opportunities.
- Dame Shirley Porter - Tesco heiress and co-founder of The Porter Foundation, has donated to Tel Aviv University, social welfare facilities and ecological funding, the National Portrait Gallery in London, and others.
- Charles Pratt - founder of Pratt Institute.
- Usher Raymond - American singer/songwriter, Founding Chairman of The New Look Foundation and advocate for social justice.
- Hilmar Reksten, Norwegian shipping magnate, tax evader, patron of the arts.
- Christopher Reeve - founder of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation
- Werner Reinhart - industrialist, philanthropist, music and literature patron
- Sir Cliff Richard - one of the vice-presidents of Tearfund, a British religious, relief and development agency. He supports other organizations and foundations: The Hunger Project, Kidney Research UK, Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, Teenage Cancer Trust, Cliff Richard Tennis Foundation, Alzheimer's Research UK. He also opened two new purpose-built buildings for Self Unlimited, a national charity for people with learning disabilities.
- Donald Rix - BC Innovation Council, BC Cancer Agency Foundation, BC Medical Services Foundation, and the BC Children's Hospital Foundation
- Sir David Robinson - founder of the Robinson Charitable Trust, and of Robinson College.
- John D. Rockefeller - founder of the Rockefeller Foundation and Rockefeller University.
- John D. Rockefeller Jr. - dramatically expanded the Rockefeller Foundation and Rockefeller University. He also bought and then donated the land in Manhattan upon which the United Nations headquarters was built.
- John D. Rockefeller 3rd - major third-generation Rockefeller philanthropist and founder of the Asia Society (1956), the Population Council (1952) and a reconstituted Japan Society, he was chairman of the Rockefeller Foundation for twenty years. He established the Rockefeller Public Service Awards in 1958. Among his many other achievements, he was the driving force behind the construction of the landmark Lincoln Center, built between 1959 and 1966, in New York City.
- J.K. Rowling - President of One Parent Families, and advocate for social equity.
- Joseph Rowntree - founder of the four Rowntree trusts.
- Enriqueta Augustina Rylands, foundress of the John Rylands Library
- John Rylands
- Sandro Salsano - chairman of Salsano Group and founder of Salsano Shahani Foundation
- Elinor Sauerwein - Salvation Army philanthropist.
- Shakira - founder of Pies Descalzos Foundation.
- Sir Run Run Shaw - founder of the Shaw Prize Foundation.
- Charles Simonyi - founder of Charles and Lisa Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences, $100 million.
- Gary Sinise - co-founder of Operation Iraqi Children.
- George Soros - estimated to have donated more than US$6 billion, often through the Open Society Institute and Soros Foundations.
- Sir Charles Henry de Soysa Ceylonese entrepreneur who pioneered a multitude of medical, educational, religious and infrastructure projects.
- Ellen Gates Starr - co-founder of Hull House.
- Levi Strauss - Gave to many notable foundations of his time. He also gave to many Jewish synagogues and organizations (he was Jewish himself).
- Belinda Stronach - co-founder of Spread the Net
- James Strong
- John Studzinski - champion of the homeless and the arts in the UK; founder and owner of the Genesis Foundation
- P. K. Subban - Canadian ice hockey player, donated $10 million to the Montreal Children's Hospital
- 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. It has also distributed thousands of tons of food and medicines in famine-stricken areas and adopted nearly 10,000 orphans.
- Mr. T - actor (Starred in 1980's TV series, 'The A-Team' and 'Rocky III'), motivational speaker, donated all his gold to charity.
- Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal - Chairman of investment firm Kingdom Holding Company; plegded US$32bn donation to his charity Alwaleed Philanthropies.
- Marian Tompson - co-founder of La Leche League International, a breastfeeding support organization.
- Cornelius Vanderbilt - funded Vanderbilt University.
- William Henry Vanderbilt - cofounder of the Metropolitan Opera.
- Paul Walker- founder of Reach Out Worldwide a charity.
- Mary Lee Ware - principal sponsor of the Harvard Museum of Natural History's famous Glass Flowers exhibit and key player in the creation of the New Hampshire Rhododendron State Park.
- William Wilberforce - English politician, headed successful parliamentary campaign against the British slave trade, and later supported the campaign for complete abolition.
- Oprah Winfrey - estimated donations above US$300 million, and founder of Oprah's Angel Network.
- Isaac Wolfson - managing director of Great Universal Stores.
- 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.)
- Mark Zuckerberg - co-founder of social media network Facebook
Greatest philanthropists by amount of USD
The following table orders the greatest philanthropists by estimated amount given to charity, corresponding to USD.
||Healthcare, extreme poverty, education, access to information technology
||Healthcare, education, AIDS-prevention, sanitation
||Education, world peace efforts
||Healthcare, youth, ageing, poverty, human rights
||Health care, anti-Fascist publications, human rights, economic, legal, and social reform
|Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal
||Foster cultural understanding, develop communities, empower women, enable youth, provide vital disaster relief and create a more tolerant and accepting world
||Education, healthcare, intercollegiate athletics
For a longer list of philanthropists, see Category: Philanthropists.