Famous philanthropists

A list of famous philanthropists who gave away a substantial part of their fortune to charitable causes. This list is not exhaustive, but gives a selection of the most famous and notable philanthropists.


Robert Owen (1771 – 1858) – Welsh social reformer who attempted to build utopian socialist and co-operative movement. He invested his business profits in providing better conditions for his workers and campaigning for social change. He also invested money in a Utopian community experiment in America.

Sir Titus Salt (1803 – 1876) – Victorian businessman who developed successful manufacture of Alpaca wool in Bradford, Yorkshire. Also famous for building his model village in Saltaire, and being one of few businessmen of era to care about his workers.

Andrew Carnegie (1835 – 1919) Born in Scotland to poor parents, Carnegie moved to America where he became very wealthy through dominating the US steel industry. After selling his steel company in 1901, he devoted the rest of his life to giving away his wealth to projects such as libraries, world peace and education. By his death, he had given away $4.8 billion (2010 terms)

Octavia Hill (1838 – 1912) Hill worked from an early age to improve the welfare of the poor of London. In particular, she set up housing associations to offer good quality housing to former slum tenants. She took an active role in the management and responsibility of the housing.

John D. Rockefeller (1839 – 1937) Rockefeller became one of the richest persons in the world through his dominance of the oil and railroad industries. He became a generous philanthropists giving money to his church, education, medical science and public health.

Warren Buffet (1930 – ) Buffet is one of the world’s most successful investors – becoming the 3rd wealthiest person in the world (2011). He has pledged to give away 99% of his personal fortune to philanthropic causes, primarily through the Gates foundation.

Bill Gates (1955- ) Co-founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates became one of the world’s richest men. He now works full-time for his charitable foundation. By 2013, Gates had given away US$28 billion to his foundation, which concentrates on reducing poverty, improving education and access to information technology.

Ted Turner (1938 – ) Turner is a media mogul who made his fortune through his cable TV Network CNN. He made one of largest philanthropic donations of US$1 billion to create the United Nations Foundation, which seeks to support the ideals of the United Nations.

George Solos (1930 – ) Soros is a Hungarian-American business magnate and investor. Between 1979 and 2011, Soros gave away over $8 billion to causes related to human rights, public health, and education. He also supports liberal progressive politics

Gordon Moore (1929- ) Co-f0under of Intel. He has donated over $6.8 billion through the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation in 2000. His donations concentrate on education, scientific research and the environment

Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. + “Famous philanthropists”, Oxford, www.biographyonline.net, 01/12/2013


How to Be an Everyday Philanthropist

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