In recognition of those who have given away $ 1 Billion or more

The most exclusive subset of the world's wealthy may be those living philanthropists who have already given away $1 billion or more, as listed by Forbes.

Of the world’s 793 billionaires, only 11 made it into this group. Says banking billionaire Herbert Sandler, "It's a shame there aren't a lot more."

Leading the elite group by almost an order of magnitude is Bill Gates, who has cut checks worth $28 billion during his lifetime. His fight against disease and eradicating poverty in developing countries has influenced many others to accelerate their giving.

In second place is hedge fund manager George Soros, who has given out $7.2 billion. Third place goes to Intel founder Gordon Moore, who has given away a total of $6.8 billion and backs environmental causes, including saving rain forests in South America and supporting marine ecosystems.

Warren Buffett is the fourth most generous donor in the world, who announced in June 2006 that, rather than start his own foundation, he'd transfer $30 billion in stock over 20 years into the Gates foundation. Buffett, who has given $6.4 billion so far.

All but one of Forbes' billion-dollar givers are self-made, including New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Hong Kong's richest person, Li Ka-shing, who dropped out of school at age 15.

Scholars of philanthropy have noticed some interesting patterns about these super-philanthropists. Inherited wealth more often stays horded. "People who make their own money, entrepreneurs, are the most generous," says Leslie Lenkowsky, a professor at Indiana University's Center on Philanthropy. "They understand they've been very fortunate, and their good fortune in society depended on the schools they attended and their communities."

The only silver spoon among the super generous is Swiss billionaire Stephen Schmidheiny, who donated his company to a trust that distributes its profits to social causes in Latin America.

Photo briefs on the Billion Dollar Givers


Corporate Giving and why it's better to give than receive

The adage that it is better to give than to receive, a corruption of "It is more blessed to give than to receive." Acts 20:35, is a difficult principle to follow for anyone in charge of corporate giving in a recession.

The return on investment of corporate philanthropy is hard to measure and even harder to justify to shareholders at the best of times, and when profits are down, giving gets harder.

When I started viewing philanthropic dollars as a strategic tool to build brand loyalty, the corporations I was working with began to see a return on their philanthropic dollars in the form of better government relations, more effective public relations, improvements in internal culture and noticeable growth in consumer trust in the brand.

Give money and you leave an impression. In this economy, people can't remember an ad, let alone which corporation gave what to whom. But they can, and do, remember people who helped them in a crunch.

Additionally, recently published literature indicates that a corporation's philanthropy can make a distinct difference to consumer trust in the brand especially with consumers between the ages of 20 and 34.

[Excerpt of article by Dr. Mary E. Donohue, Financial Post ]


Thoughts on zakat as Ramadan draws near

Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting and prayer, begins at sunset Saturday, and many believers are already planning a key observance: zakat, one of the five pillars of Islam.

Often translated as "charity," it requires believers to give 2.5% of their cash assets (even including the value of their jewelry or stocks) to the Muslim needy and poor.Zakat might be given at any time in the year, but Ramadan's focus on compassion and introspection often prompts a greater outpouring.

After the 9/11 attacks, Muslims in the USA struggled to find charities to support human welfare that weren't suspect of being linked to violent political efforts in the Mideast or elsewhere.

It was good news indeed for Muslim donors, when during President Obama's address to the Muslim world in June, he pledged that the government would take IRS and anti-terrorism measures to make it easier to clear zakat hurdles.

Now websites such as Global Giving direct a small but growing number of Muslim donors to 40 suggested charities, such as organizations that offer clean drinking water in Morocco, meals for girls in Burkina Faso, and education and health services for girls in Afghanistan.

[Source: USA Today]


Young philanthropists reshaping the world of giving

Danielle Durchslag, an effervescent 24-year-old who hopes to become a professional photographer, grew up in a family that has a motto of its own: "Nothing will ever be accomplished if all objections must first be overcome." Those are the words of her great-grandfather, Nathan Cummings, founder of Sara Lee.

When Cummings died in 1985, he left the bulk of his fortune to seed a foundation in his name. Six years ago, Durchslag inherited a seat on the board of that foundation, which has an endowment worth more than $415 million.

Durchslag is one of a growing number of young people who are inheriting a philanthropic tradition. With a $41 trillion wealth transfer expected as baby boomers begin to retire, families are increasingly choosing to make giving part of the package.

And many young philanthropists have their own ideas about what causes they wish to support, which may not be the same ones the foundation has traditionally favored.

[Excerpts of article written by Jessi Hempe in BusinessWeek]


Charity can transform the giver as much as the recipient

Five years ago, Mr. Harrison was a nightclub promoter in Manhattan who spent his nights surrounded by friends in a blur of alcohol, cocaine and marijuana. He lived in a luxurious apartment and drove a BMW — but then on a vacation in South America he underwent a spiritual crisis.

“I realized I was the most selfish, sycophantic and miserable human being,” he recalled. “I was the worst person I knew.”

Mr. Harrison, now 33, found an aid organization that would accept him as a volunteer photographer — if he paid $500 a month to cover expenses. And so he did. The organization was Mercy Ships, a Christian aid group that performs surgeries in poor countries with volunteer doctors.

“The first person I photographed was a 14-year-old boy named Alfred, choking on a four-pound benign tumor in his mouth, filling up his whole mouth,” Mr. Harrison recalled. “He was suffocating on his own face. I just went into the corner and sobbed.”

A few weeks later, Mr. Harrison took Alfred — with the tumor now removed — back to his village in the West African country of Benin. “I saw everybody celebrating, simply because a few doctors had given up their vacation time,” he said.

Mercy Ships transformed Mr. Harrison as much as it did Alfred.

[Excerpt of a NYT article by Nicolas D. Kristof]