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).
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. He has been dubbed, "the face of fusion philanthropy", both for his success enlisting powerful allies from a diverse spectrum of leaders in government, religious institutions, philanthropic organisations, popular media, and the business world, as well as for spearheading new organizational networks that bind global humanitarian relief with geopolitical activism and corporate commercial enterprise.
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.
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
Michael Jackson ~ has donated more than US$500 million to various foundations, and is noted as the entertainer who supported the most charity organisations by Guinness World Records. He also founded the Heal the World Foundation.
Angelina Jolie ~ American Actress, who is well known for her humanitarian world wide and who is also a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Refugee Agency
Li Ka-shing ~ founder and chairman of the Li Ka Shing Foundation, which focuses on two major areas: 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 charity and philanthropic projects throughout the world.
Dolly Parton ~ Legendary 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.
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). In August 2011, Ronald Perelman he hosted his second annual benefit for the Apollo Theater, raising over $1.5 million. A recent Forbes 400 article discusses Ronald and Raymond (listed directly above) Perelman's father-son relationship and extensive philanthropy in detail.
Steve Wozniak ~ provided all the money, as well as a good amount of on-site technical support, for the technology program for the Los Gatos School district. Co-founder of Apple Computer (now Apple Inc.)
Mr. T ~ Famous actor (Starred in 1980's TV series, 'The A-Team' and 'Rocky III'), motivational speaker, donated all his gold to charity. Known for catch phrase, ' I pity the fool!'
Milton Hershey ~ founded the Milton Hershey School and gave the majority of his assets, property, and control of the Hershey Company to a trust that supports the school.
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. Along with that, it has also distributed thousands of tons of food and medicines in famine-stricken areas and adopted nearly 10,000 orphans.
Greatest philanthropists by amount of USD
The following table orders the greatest philanthropists by estimated amount given to charity, corresponding to USD.