The founder of Oracle Corporation donated $200 million (£156.6m) in 2016 to the University of Southern California to create a cancer treatment centre. In addition to his contributions to medical science, he has also pledged money to combating oceanic degradation, as well as wildlife causes, and in 2010 he signed the Giving Pledge with a statement that he plans to give away 95% of his wealth over time.
As vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway for the past four decades, Charlie Munger (pictured left) is Warren Buffet’s investment partner and right-hand man, who also shares his philanthropic ideals. In 2013, Munger pledged more than $100 million (£78.3m) for new graduate residences at the University of Michigan. In 2016, the billionaire also gave away $200 million (£156.6m) to the University of California at Santa Barbara for state-of-the art student dorms.
Mark Zuckerberg is arguably the most famous billionaire in the world. With over a billion users and almost endless streams of advertising revenue, Facebook shows no sign of slowing down. However, Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan have pledged to give 99% of their Facebook stock away. In 2016, the couple pledged to invest at least $3 billion (£2.3bn) over the next decade through the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative towards preventing, curing or managing all diseases by the end of the century.
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Musk is one of the world’s most revered tech entrepreneurs and his companies have produced a number of innovations. The SpaceX founder wants to put his wealth to good use by sending a manned mission to Mars by as early as 2023. Musk believes Earth will die without interplanetary exploration and is interested in giving a lot of his time, and money, to facilitate a mission to the red planet. The Tesla-founder has also signed the Giving Pledge.
The list of Branson’s causes is nearly as long as his hair. He has promised to donate all profits from his travel firms to combat global warming, and has made huge contributions towards fighting HIV and AIDS (particularly in Africa). More recently, his is a founding member of The Elders, a group of high-profile individuals who work to end global conflicts.
But how did he become so rich? Read From record to rockets: the fascinating story of how Richard Branson made his billions
Along with his wife, Bill Gates is arguably the world’s most important philanthropist. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation focuses primarily on improving healthcare provision and reducing poverty, while in the US it aims to improve access to education and technology. He’s also a man of his word, having donated over $50 billion (£39bn) to the foundation to date, and gave away $4.6 billion (£3.6bn) worth of Microsoft shares in 2017 alone.
The talk show host has given away roughly $386.2 million (£302.4m) to educational causes alone, as well as making huge donations to various museums. Perhaps more importantly, her profile is widely recognized in helping to raise funds for various causes and in the wake of crises. After Hurricane Katrina, she opened a registry which raised over $10.6 million (£8.3m), and made a personal donation of $9.6 million (£7.5m).
J K Rowling's giving has meant that the first ever billionaire author is no longer a billionaire. Having experienced poverty as a single mum when she was first writing her Harry Potter series, Rowling understands how difficult life can be and is a committed philanthropist. In 2011, just as she joined the billionaire club she gave away 16% of her net worth, around $160 million (£125m). Rowling has since given money to research for Multiple Sclerosis, and set up her own charitable trust, Volant.
In the summer of 2016 alone, Warren Buffett gave almost $2.8 billion (£2.2bn) to charity. A key signatory of The Giving Pledge, which asks billionaires to give away the majority of their wealth during their lifetimes, he donated $2.1 billion-worth (£1.6bn) of shares to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and pledged $482.4 million (£377.7m) to the Nuclear Threat Initiative, which works to prevent nuclear attacks. Buffett has given away more than $46 billion (£36bn) since 2000, 71% of his fortune.
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Ted Turner is one of the world’s most socially-conscious billionaires. He created the UN Foundation in 1991 to help support the work of UN causes around the world and is the founder of the Nuclear Threat Initiative. Readers of a certain age might also remember the television series Captain Planet. That was Ted's work, and the reason? To foster a sense of environmentalism at a young age. Alongside this, Turner has given more than $350 million (£273.8m) to environmental causes since 1990.
Read about Turner and the other 30 most generous Americans of all time
The Indian billionaire who founded software services company Wipro Ltd, Azim Premji says being rich doesn’t “thrill” him. So it’s just as well he gives so much of it away. A signatory of The Giving Pledge, he also founded the Azim Premji Foundation, which promotes universal education. In 2014, he set up the Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiatives to focus on street children and the disabled. This year he merged his investment business with his charitable trusts, underlining his commitment to philanthropy.
Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich (pictured left) is known to many as owner of Chelsea FC. He is also a noted philanthropist in his homeland, even if disputes with its president keep him far away. He has contributed heavily to various charitable projects and has a particular interest in orphanages, having grown up in many as a child.
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Another kind-hearted hedge fund manager, James Simons (pictured right) has long had his eye on the importance of philanthropy. In 2016, he had an asteroid named after him in honour of his contributions to both mathematics (he founded Math for America) and philanthropy. His fields of charitable interest are nearly as big as his IQ, and take in autism research, genome projects, and ecological initiatives focused on the world’s oceans. In 2015, he gave $298 million (£233m) to maths and science education.
Ireland’s richest native-born person is a close friend of the Clintons (something Donald Trump was not happy about), and is known for his social conscience. He founded the Iris O’Brien Foundation which helps disadvantaged communities in his native land. Moreover, the foundation aims to foster social entrepreneurship and provides support programs to talented individuals and companies.
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