Scholars of philanthropy have noticed some interesting patterns about super-philanthropists in the Bill Gates and Warren Buffet league.
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.
Another phenomenon that can't be missed about the super generous is the predominance of Americans. 10 of the 14 who have given $ 1 Billion or more are from the U.S., even though only 45% of the world's billionaires reside there.
Says Peter Fuchs, head of a Swiss foundation that works to better lives in South America, "One of the big advantages of the U.S. is its great philanthropists. Latin America does not have the institutions to support philanthropic giving. It is very difficult to change mindsets."
While we hear of extremely generous and wealthy individuals in China (Li Ka-shing), Mexico (Carlos Slim Helú), philanthropy has yet to really catch on amongst the wealthy in many countries.
Says Hong Kong's Li who has been outspoken on the topic: "In Asia, our traditional values encourage and even demand that wealth and means pass through lineage ... I urge and hope to persuade you that if we are in a position to do so, that we transcend this traditional belief," Li said in a 2006 speech, "Even if our government structure is not yet geared towards supporting a culture of giving, we must in our hearts see building society as a duty in line with supporting our children."