10 Wealthy Men Who Gave Away Their Fortunes
There is no dearth of people who use every means possible to make more money than they already have and can spend in one lifetime. What is however rare is to find someone who is willing to give away considerably large portions of his fortune to philanthropy or some other cause. Here is however a list of ten wealthy men who give more importance to build good karma rather than merely add on to their bank balance.
- Andrew Carnegie
The American steel magnate of the nineteenth century, Andrew Carnegie is not only remembered as one of the richest men of all times but for a philanthropic legacy which made him donate billions to educational and research institutions. Before his death on 11 August 1919, Carnegie had donated $350,695,654 for various causes, chief among which was the founding of many libraries, schools, and universities in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and other countries, as well as a pension fund for former employees. Carnegie wrote "the gospel of wealth", an article in which he stated his belief that the rich should use their wealth to help enrich society; he is famous for coining the phrase "...the man who dies thus rich dies disgraced." which in a nutshell was the guiding wisdom behind his philanthropic initiatives.
A self-made man from humble beginnings, Carnegie worked hard from childhood. With continual progress he accumulated savings which became investments. Eventually his investments became capital for a wide range of business ventures spread over railroads, rail sleeping cars, bridges, oil derricks and finance which at the peak of his career made him worth a whopping $297.8 billion.
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- John d. Rockefeller
John d. Rockefeller is widely considered to be the richest man in modern history whose name has become almost a by-word for big money. Interestingly though he was philanthropically active throughout his career and not just at the end of his life. Rockefeller used his massive fortune to create the modern systematic approach of targeted philanthropy with foundations that had a major effect on medicine, education, and scientific research. Among his chief contributions was the creation of the Rockefeller Foundation in 1913 to which he gave nearly $250 million to promote public health, medical training, and the arts all across the world.
Rockefeller made his fortune in the oil business and founded the standard oil company which soon came to dominate the entire energy industry. Eventually he was found to have encouraged monopolistic practices but by then he had already diversified into other ventures and the Rockefeller fortune was estimated to be a staggering $323.4 billion.
- Warren buffet
In 2006, Warren Buffet, widely billed as the third richest man in the world, made headlines when he pledged to give away 85% of his money to charitable institutions, most notably the Bill and Melinda gates Foundation. One of the most high-profile investors of America, Buffet has consistently figured among the top three richest men in the world for many years now. At the peak of his fortunes, Buffet was estimated to have $62 billion net worth even though currently that has come down to $47 billion. The primary source of Buffet’s fortune is the textile firm Berkshire Hathaway which he took over in 1965. Eventually he used the company as a vehicle to invest in varied sectors as insurance, food, utilities and recently green technology.
- Bill Gates
The software mogul who co-founded Microsoft is today the second richest person in the world. Even if Gates’ current net worth is down to $58 billion from its heady peak a decade ago, it hardly matters to him since with an all-time fortune of $124 billion including the $38.7 billion strong Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Gates himself contributed $28 billion to the Foundation which is not surprisingly today the the largest transparently operated private foundation in the world. Set up by Bill gates and his wife Melinda in 1994, the foundation is primarily committed to the promotion of healthcare and the reduction of extreme poverty in the world and to expansion of educational opportunities and access to information technology in America.
- Albert Gubay
This 82 year-old British billionaire has put his business empire, worth about $1.1 billion, into a charitable trust, fulfilling a divine pact he made at the start of his entrepreneurial career. Goby who ranked no. 880 in the Forbes 2010 list of the world's billionaires made his fortune in the 1960s with ‘kwik save’ discount supermarket chain in the United Kingdom and then replicated the model elsewhere in the world like Ireland and United States. Gubay’s benevolent gesture has its roots in the beginning of his career when he barely had enough capital to get his business ideas off the ground and prayed for some divine help with his finances in return for which he agreed to share half his fortune with the almighty. Around five decades after that fateful day, nearly all of his fortune is going into a trust, from which half of all the funds will be spent on projects connected to the Roman Catholic Church. The other half will be given to whomever the trustees deem appropriate. Goby, a lifelong Catholic, will reportedly keep $15 million to tide him over during his old age. A father of two from his first marriage, Gubay currently lives in the British tax haven of Isle of Man where he has been instrumental in providing the resources for building a church.
- Thomas Hunter
In 2007 Scottish entrepreneur Thomas Hunter pledged to give $1.5 billion to charity. He also figured in the Forbes billionaire list in 2008 but has since then dropped off mainly because of the financial crisis of 2007–2010 which is believed to have sliced off an estimated £250million from his fortune,. Currently Hunter enjoys a net worth of $2.13 billion. Hunter made the bulk of his fortune by selling sportswear and footwear from Sports Division which eventually went on to become the no 1 sports chain in the UK, growing to 250 stores. Later Hunter diversified into property and commercial real estate. After the sale of Sports Division, Hunter with his wife established the Hunter Foundation in 1998 with a £10million check as a tax management vehicle. Influenced by the Carnegie model, Hunter set a cause and a method which has resulted in the Foundation donating millions to supporting educational and entrepreneurial projects in Scotland.
- Millard Fuller
Even before he touched thirty, this American lawyer and businessman became a millionaire by forming a direct-marketing company that sold cookbooks and candy to high school chapters of the future homemakers of America. But rather than indulge in their new-found wealth, Millard with his wife Linda Fuller gave it all up in 1968 for a life of Christian service. The Millards went on to found two organizations -- Habitat for Humanity and the Fuller Center for Housing -- that inspire donors to give money, material and labor to build homes for low-income families.
- Charles Feeney
This New Jersey man is notoriously media-shy and goes to inordinate lengths to conceal both his wealth as well as his contributions to philanthropy. Feeney made much of his fortune by co-creating Duty Free Shoppers group, the airport gift shop chain that began in 1960 with outlets in Hong Kong and Honolulu and grew into the world's largest travel retailer. In 1997 Feeney sold Duty Free Shoppers to luxury retailer Lvmh Loet Hennessy Louis Vuitton and then created a charitable organization in 1982 to spread his wealth. That organization evolved into the Atlantic Philanthropies, an international foundation focused on helping disadvantaged individuals through four program areas – aging, children and youth, health as well as reconciliation and human rights. Since its founding, the Atlantic Philanthropies has given away about $5 billion and today, it has an endowment of about $4 billion. However Feeney is determined that the organization should spend all its money by 2016 which means giving away a whopping $400 million a year on charitable causes.
- Karl Rabeder
Austrian businessman Karl Rabeder appeared to have it all. At 48 years-old – the prime of his life – he was the owner of luxury cars, beautiful homes including a luxury villa in the Austrian Alps worth an estimated $2 million and regularly went for three-week vacations in Hawaii. But fed up of his five-star lifestyle, Rabeder announced in February 2010, announced that he will be donating his entire fortune of over four million US dollars along with selling off many of his other luxury possessions including his Austrian chalet. Proceeds will go into the microcredit charity, known as MyMicrocredit, he has set up to make loans to the needy in central and South America.
- Paul Allen
The lesser-known half of the Microsoft founding duo, Paul Allen has decided to follow the ‘giving pledge’ spearheaded by his more famous former co-worker Bill Gates. In July 2010 a month after Bill Gates and Warren Buffet launched the campaign, Paul Allen announced that he will be giving up at least half of his estimated $13.5bn fortune to charity. The philanthropic pledge was a rare public statement by 57-year-old Allen, who stepped down from Microsoft in 1983 after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease and was recently reported to be going through chemotherapy sessions to combat a fresh bout of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.