August 29, 2015

The data for this post is taken from  The text is mine.

How much is enough?  At what point do we become “fully funded”?   Please don’t misunderstand me, I don’t begrudge those individuals who have amassed a fortune—maybe a fortune plus.   If you really look at what they have contributed to our society you can see their input has been significant.  In some cases, monumental.

One remarkable example of wealth giving back is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  Their contribution to improvements in third world countries is truly moving.  The mission statement for their foundation is as follows:

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation:

“To bring about the kinds of changes that will help people live healthier and more productive lives, we seek to understand the world’s inequities. Whether the challenge is low-yield crops in Africa or low graduation rates in Los Angeles, we listen and learn so we can identify pressing problems that get too little attention. Then we consider whether we can make a meaningful difference with our influence and our investments, whether it is a grant or a contract.

All of our strategies—more than two dozen across the foundation—have emerged through this process of identifying what we want to accomplish for people and where we can have the greatest impact. Once we commit to an area of need, we define our major goals and identify a clear path to achieving them.”

We all know about Mr. and Mrs. Gates but let’s now take a look at the top fourteen individuals giving back to communities, the United States and even the world.   These people KNOW they are very fortunate to have resources and, like Bill and Melinda, they give back in a huge manner.

  • Mark Zuckerberg– The Zuckerbergs regularly top the charts of most giving entrepreneurs. In 2013, they donated $1 billion (yes, with a “B”) to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation via company stock. Known for setting a great example as an entrepreneur and a philanthropist at a young age, the 29-year-olds have been moving Facebook shares over to non-profits for the past several years.
  • Charles Johnson— Head ofFranklin Resources.   Charles Johnson donated $250 million in 2013 to Yale University. A former graduate, the 80-year-old takes giving back to his alma mater seriously. It might not seem “necessary” but private universities including Yale depend largely on the generosity of alums to keep producing world leaders.
  • Sergey Brin–One co-founders ofGoogle, Brin donated $219 million to his own foundation in 2013, which was founded along with his wife (from whom he is now separated). The couple also generously donated to the Michael J. Fox  The Brin Wojcicki Foundation distributes funds to a variety of diverse non-profits.
  • Paul Allen–In 2013, Allen donated $206 million largely to his own foundation, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, but also notably to the EMP Museum. The founder of Vulcan Capital andco-founder of Microsoft, he focuses on culture, education, arts and social services program largely in the Great Northwest. Like Brin, his foundation also distributes funds to other deserving organizations.
  • Mark Cuban–You might know Mark Cuban, the well-known American business man and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, from his appearances on TV’s Shark Tank, but you might not be familiar with his philanthropic work. In 2003, Cuban started the Fallen Patriot Fund to help families of United States military personnel killed or injured during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Cuban matched the first one million dollars in contributions with funds from the Mark Cuban Foundation, which is run by Mark’s brother Brian Cuban but does not directly operate any charitable activities. Rather, the Mark Cuban foundation supports charitable activities in the Dallas area and throughout the United States. Cuban is also reported to give freely to other charitable organizations across the world.
  • John and Laura Arnold–The Texas couple founded the Laura andJohn Arnold Foundation after Mr. Arnold founded the Centaurus Energy hedge fund company. In 2013, they donated $296.2 million mostly to their own Foundation. It supports K-12 public education, public policy reform, and scientific research. 
  • Stephen RossDonating $200 million to the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in 2013, Ross is the founder of Related Companies in New York—another real estate tycoon. When he made the massive pledge in autumn 2013, he said it was meant to inspire other alumni to give back and help reach the university’s massive $4 billion fundraising goal. 
  • Michael BloombergIt’s no surprise that Bloomberg donated largely to improving city governments on a global scale, but he also gifted funds to education, arts, public health and environmental groups. In total, he gave $452 million in 2013. The founder of the Bloomberg news and financial group is best known as New York’s mayor from 2001-2013, but now is focusing largely on philanthropy.
  • Phil and Penelope Knight–As co-founder of Nike, Mr. Knight targets Oregon-based organizations. He donated $500 million to Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) in 2013, after OHSU asked “boldly” for $100 million. After seeing the incredible work being done, he shocked the non-profit teaching hospital by drastically upping the gift.
  • Stephen Scwwarzman–As co-founder and current chairman of Blackstone Group, the investor directed $103 million towards Tsinghua University in 2013. The Beijing University approached him with a pitch for a campaign to attract international students. He seesChina’s economic growth as a great haven for future leaders.
  • David RubensteinAs co-chief and co-founder of Carlyle Group, Rubenstein donated $121.7 million in 2013 largely to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, but also to a number of universities including Columbia and Duke. His goal is to donate to at least 10 non-profits each year.
  • Alfred Mann–As the founder of numerous health-based businesses, Mann is equally committed to charity. He donated $70 million in 2013 to the Nevada Community Foundation, although he has yet to report on which programs his funding will support.
  • Abraham Mitchell–Donating just over $50 million to theUniversity of South Alabama, Mitchell co-founded the Mitchell Company and has always considered charitable giving a staple of his business practice. Specifically, he asked that half of his donation go towards scholarships.
  • Lyda Hill–An entrepreneur from the start, Hill learned her way around business from her grandfather, oilman HL Hunt. She donated $63.2 million to a number of organizations in 2013 including the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and a Nature Conservatory.


Obviously, there are many philanthropists across our nation who, through hard work and focus, has accomplished more than a weekly paycheck.  I have no idea how much, if anything, they give back and the purpose of this post is not to chastise them if they don’t.  If we look at annual salaries for the year 2014, we see the following:

  • Floyd Mayweather-$300 million
  • Manny Pacquiao-$160 million
  • Katy Perry-$135 million
  • Howard Stern–$95 million
  • Garth Brooks-$90 million
  • James Patterson-$89 million
  • Robert Downey Jr.-$80 million
  • Taylor Swift-$80 million
  • Christian Roualdo-$79.5 million
  • Rush Limbaugh-$79 million
  • Ellen DeGeneres-$75 million
  • Lionel Mussi-$74.5 million
  • Phil McGraw-$70 million
  • Roger Federer-$67 million
  • Calvin Harris-$66 million
  • LeBron James-$65 million
  • Justin Timberlake-$63.5 million
  • David Copperfield-$63 million
  • Sean Combs-$60 million
  • Gordon Ramsey-$60 million
  • Ryan Seacrest-$60 million
  • Beyonce-$54.5 million
  • Kim Kardashian-$52.5 million
  • Shawn Hannity-$29 million

According to Forbes, the most charitable athletes are:

  • David Beckham
  • LeBron James
  • Albert Pujols
  • Eli Manning
  • Larry Fitzgerald
  • Clayton Krenshaw
  • Serena Williams
  • Derek Jeter
  • Jeff Gordon
  • Tiger Woods

OK, how about celebrities.  Who gives back. Let’s look.

  • Prince Harry
  • Jennifer Lawrence
  • Kylie Jenner
  • Emma Watson
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Brad Pitt
  • Madonna
  • 50 Cent
  • Mary J. Blige
  • Susan Sarandon
  • Lady Gaga
  • Angelina Jolie
  • Matt Damon
  • Bono
  • Michael J. Fox
  • Ben Affleck
  • Justin Timberlake

Quite frankly, I’m really impressed that so many “over-achievers” do feel the great need to return something to their communities.  The argument for doing so is found in Luke 12:48– ‘to whom much is given, much will be required’.   Many in the lists above recognize the need to give back and they are putting their significant resources to good use.

As always, I welcome your comments.

%d bloggers like this: