The 50 richest people supporting the giving pledge

October 18, 2019
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The 50 richest people supporting the Giving Pledge

In a world where just eight rich men control as much wealth as the poorest half of the globe’s population, grassroots efforts to end poverty can seem futile. But a group of the world’s wealthiest people is doing just that by using their wealth to do away with some of that disparity. The Giving Pledge is an initiative to inspire “a new standard of generosity among the ultra-wealthy” that was created in August 2010 by Bill Gates, Melinda Gates, and Warren Buffett that urges billionaires to promise the majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes, either during their lifetimes or in their wills.

To date, the Giving Pledge has signed on 204 of the world’s wealthiest people from 23 countries. All benefactors are worth at least half a billion dollars and have promised to give at least half of that wealth to causes they support. While signing on requires just a “moral commitment” with no legal contract, social pressure to follow through is high, as pledgers publish a public letter underscoring their philanthropic promises. The recipients of the charity are wide-ranging, from global environmental work to localized education initiatives. Many of the initiatives being undertaken would not be possible were it not for the generosity of the donor.

Stacker made a list of everyone who signed to donate to the Giving Pledge, cross-listed the names with net worth data from the most recent Forbes 400 report (last updated Oct. 3, 2019), and ranked the top 50 according to their net worth. Where families and couples are concerned, Stacker included the sum net worth of those mentioned. Keep reading to see who the 50 richest people supporting the giving pledge are and how they tend to orient their philanthropic activities and endeavors.

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#46. Joe Gebbia (tie)

- Net worth: $4.2 billion

Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia wrote he would “aim to build pathways for future creatives and entrepreneurs” in his Giving Pledge letter. A trustee on the board of his alma mater, the Rhode Island School of Design, Gebbia donated $300,000 to the institution in 2014 to endow a scholarship.

#46. Dagmar Dolby (tie)

- Net worth: $4.2 billion

Dagmar Dolby is the widow of sound pioneer Ray Dolby, who died in 2013. A longtime philanthropist, Dagmar Dolby promises to give to causes supporting “reproductive rights, stem cell research, and most recently brain health research, with a focus on mood disorders and Alzheimer's disease.”

#46. Jack and Laura Dangermond (tie)

- Net worth: $4.2 billion

The Dangermonds—who made their fortune through Jack's founding of Esri in 1969, a software for creating digital maps—are involved in several facets of philanthropy, primarily oriented around the environment. One of their primary efforts is STEM education, particularly as it pertains to geography and the environment. Another big focus is purchasing open land for conservation, and a final is an investment in local communities.

#46. Brian Chesky (tie)

- Net worth: $4.2 billion

Brian Chesky joined the Giving Pledge along with fellow Airbnb co-founders Nathan Blecharczyk and Joe Gebbia. Chesky wrote in his giving letter that he wanted to show young people that “their dreams are not bounded by what they can see in front of them.” Chesky helped create Airbnb’s disaster response program, providing free shelter for people displaced by Hurricane Sandy and other emergencies.

#46. Nathan and Elizabeth Blecharczyk (tie)

- Net worth: $4.2 billion

Airbnb co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk and his wife Elizabeth, a neonatologist at Stanford, have contributed to their alma maters (Harvard, Wellesley, and Tufts), St. Mary’s Center for Women and Children, and College Track, a nonprofit that supports college-bound students from underserved communities, according to philanthropic information site Glasspockets.

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#45. Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg

- Net worth: $4.3 billion

Media mogul Barry Diller and his wife fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg are major patrons of the arts, especially in their home of Manhattan. Recently, the philanthropic couple announced a $130 million gift to develop a sprawling futuristic park on the West Side of Manhattan.

#43. Henry and Susan Samueli (tie)

- Net worth: $4.4 billion

Co-founder of chipmaker Broadcom, Henry Samueli, with his wife Susan, committed to supporting STEM education, alternative medicine, and Jewish culture in their Giving Pledge letter. The couple’s foundation donated $50 million to engineering programs at UCLA and UC Irvine in 2017.

#43. Julian H. Robertson, Jr. (tie)

- Net worth: $4.4 billion

Hedge fund pioneer Julian Robertson had given more than $300 million to philanthropic causes even before signing the Giving Pledge in 2010. He donates mostly to health, environmental, and educational organizations, including the New York Stem Cell Research Foundation, Environmental Defense Fund, and his alma mater, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

#41. Tahir (tie)

- Net worth: $4.5 billion

Entrepreneur and founder of conglomerate Mayapada Group, Tahir Dato ‘Sri was the first Indonesian signatory to the Giving Pledge. Some of his philanthropy has been directed at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, including an initiative by that organization to draw more leaders in the private sector to donate funds for refugees.

[Pictured: Mayapada Group] 

#41. Ruth and Bill Scott; Walter Scott, Jr. (tie)

- Net worth: $4.5 billion

Walter Scott Jr. made his fortune through Berkshire Hathaway Energy, his friend Warren Buffett’s utility subsidiary. Scott has given multiple multi-million dollar gifts to his alma mater, Colorado State University, which renamed its school of engineering to the Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering.

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#39. Harry H. Stine (tie)

- Net worth: $4.9 billion

Harry H. Stine, the man behind the genetically modified seeds sold to Monsanto and other large agricultural companies, made his fortune through Stine Seed—which is today the world’s largest seed company. One of the latest signers of the Giving Pledge, Stine’s philanthropic interests are still opaque; he has yet to post a letter to the initiative’s website.

#39. Jeff Skoll (tie)

- Net worth: $4.9 billion

Best known as eBay's first president, Canadian Jeff Skoll has had a hand in everything from creating the environmental film “An Inconvenient Truth” to providing health care to remote areas in the Gambia through Riders for Health. He started the Skoll Global Threats Fund in 2009 to address “urgent threats that imperil humanity: climate change, Middle East peace, nuclear weapons, pandemics, and water scarcity.”

#38. Robert Frederick Smith

- Net worth: $5.0 billion

Founder of investment firm Vista Equity Partners, Robert Frederick Smith is also behind the Fund II Foundation that supports nonprofit groups focusing on African American culture, human rights, music education, and the environment. In 2013 Smith gave $20 million to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Then in 2016 Smith gave $50 million personally and through his foundation to Cornell University to increase the number of black and female students at its engineering school.

#37. Sonia and Paul Tudor Jones

- Net worth: $5.1 billion

“We are joining the Giving Pledge because it deepens the joy of giving,” the Tudor Joneses said of their decision to join the pact. The couple noted that they had been giving all their lives, and are known for mixing their work with their philanthropic outlook. Paul Tudor Jones, who is a hedge fund manager, has long been a proponent of ethical investing, stating that companies need to focus on paying employees living wages and making charitable contributions of their own.

#36. Arthur M. Blank

- Net worth: $5.4 billion

Home Depot co-founder Arthur M. Blank is known for the tremendous amount of charity he has put to work in his home state of Georgia. Just some of his many initiatives have endeavored to fight childhood obesity in the state, develop parks and pathways for biking and hiking, and expand art and education initiatives.

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#35. George Lucas and Mellody Hobson

- Net worth: $5.8 billion

Star Wars franchise creator George Lucas and investment guru Mellody Hobson are the ultimate power couple, who’ve pledged to give to educational causes through Edutopia, the George Lucas Educational Foundation, and other initiatives. In 2006 Lucas made headlines for donating a whopping $175 million to the University of Southern California’s film school.

#33. Hansjörg Wyss (tie)

- Net worth: $6.2 billion

Hansjörg Wyss made his fortune by selling Synthes, the medical device manufacturer he founded, to Johnson & Johnson in 2012. He has since used nearly $2 billion in assets to create charitable foundations supporting a wide variety of causes, from environmental conservation to education to art.

#33. Lynne and Marc Benioff (tie)

- Net worth: $6.2 billion

Founder of cloud computing company Salesforce, Marc Benioff is credited as the creator of the 1-1-1 model of philanthropy—donating 1% of equity, employee time, and product to philanthropic causes—which has been adopted by more than 1,000 companies through Pledge 1%. A longtime supporter of health care and educational causes, Benioff, with his wife Lynne, gave $20 million to the University of Southern California in 2016 to support research and treatment of cancer.

#32. Bernie and Billi Marcus

- Net worth: $6.3 billion

Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus has given away more than $1 billion through his Marcus Foundation. A co-founder of Israel Democracy Institute in 1991, Marcus is a longtime supporter of Jewish causes, from the Jewish Institute For National Security Affairs to the Atlanta Jewish Music Festival.

#31. Dan and Jennifer Gilbert

- Net worth: $6.4 billion

Chairman and co-founder of Quicken Loans—as well as owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers and other Cleveland sports teams—Dan Gilbert has established two neurofibromatosis research clinics in Washington D.C. and Tel Aviv, Israel. He has also made large gifts to both Wayne State University Law School and Michigan State University.

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#29. Michele B. Chan and Patrick Soon-Shiong (tie)

- Net worth: $6.6 billion

Known as America’s richest doctor, Patrick Soon-Shiong built his fortune with two drug companies, Abraxis and American Pharmaceutical Partners. He and his wife Michele B. Chan focus their philanthropic efforts on mitigating health care disparities, although their donations have stirred up controversy at times.

#29. Sobrato family (tie)

- Net worth: $6.6 billion

Real estate mogul John A. Sobrato founded Sobrato Organization, a development firm that owns residential and commercial property across Silicon Valley. The Organization is now led by his son, John Michael Sobrato. The family foundation has given away hundreds of millions of dollars in money and property, including free rental space to nonprofits. In 2015 John A. Sobrato and his wife Susan made a $15 million donation to the University of San Francisco, the institution’s largest gift from an individual.

#28. Eli and Edythe Broad

- Net worth: $6.8 billion

Eli Broad made his fortune with two different companies, the real estate giant KB Homes and the annuities giant SunAmerica, now part of AIG. The Broads have invested more than $4 billion in philanthropic causes; the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation “works to advance entrepreneurship for the public good in education, science and the arts.”

#26. George B. Kaiser (tie)

- Net worth: $6.9 billion

Chairman of financial services holding company BOK Financial Corporation, George B. Kaiser first made his money in oil prospecting and drilling with the Kaiser-Francis Oil Company. His philanthropic giving focuses on health care and early childhood education as a means of fighting poverty and supporting economic growth. The George Kaiser Family Foundation helps funds a number of Tulsa-based institutions including the National Energy Policy Institute, Woody Guthrie Center, Tulsa Community College, and the Philbrook Museum of Art.

#26. Andrew and Nicola Forrest (tie)

- Net worth: $6.9 billion

Australian businessman Andrew Forrest is best known as the founder of the mining company Fortescue Metals Group. He and his wife Nicola do most of their philanthropic work through the Minderoo Foundation, which supports a wide variety of causes in Australia, from ending modern slavery to providing educational and employment opportunities to Indigenous Australians.

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#25. Azim Premji

- Net worth: $7.2 billion

Known as the czar of India’s IT industry, Azim Premji serves as the chairman of Wipro, an Indian IT services corporation with an innovation center in Silicon Valley and a $100 million venture capital fund. Since signing the Giving Pledge, his total donations were estimated to be $5 billion.

#23. David and Barbara Green (tie)

- Net worth: $7.3 billion

Hobby Lobby founder David Green wrote in his Giving Pledge letter: “For me and my family, charity equals ministry, which equals the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” His philanthropic beneficiaries are churches, Christian universities, and other evangelical Christian institutions and causes.

#23. Ann and John Doerr (tie)

- Net worth: $7.3 billion

Venture capitalist John Doerr and his wife Ann have given $65 million to their alma mater, Rice University, through their Benificus Foundation. John Doerr has joined Bill Gates-led Breakthrough Energy Coalition, which strives to power the world with zero-emissions energy. Meanwhile, Ann Doerr serves on the board of the Environmental Defense Fund.

#22. Rich and Nancy Kinder

- Net worth: $7.5 billion

The former president of Enron, Rich Kinder now chairs Kinder Morgan, an oil and gas pipeline company he co-founded in 1997. With his wife, he founded the Kinder Foundation, which has given nearly $260 million to improve green spaces in Houston’s urban areas, expand education opportunities, and improve quality of life for the city’s residents.

#21. Stephen M. Ross

- Net worth: $7.6 billion

Real estate developer and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is the chairman of Related Companies, which has developed $30 billion worth of properties all over the world. He has given more than $378 million to his alma mater, the University of Michigan; the institution’s business school is named after him.

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#20. Ronald O. Perelman

- Net worth: $8.0 billion

American businessman Ronald Perelman has major stakes in companies ranging from Revlon to AM General through his company MacAndrews & Forbes Incorporated. The company has made large donations to a variety of arts, medical research, and health care institutions, including the Revlon/UCLA Women’s Cancer Research Program, which the company established in 1994.

#19. Harold Hamm

- Net worth: $8.5 billion

A famed fracking pioneer, Harold Hamm is the CEO of oil company Continental Resources. Hamm and his wife Sue Ann in 2018 donated $34 million to the Harold Hamm Oklahoma Diabetes Center at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

#18. Candy and Charlie Ergen

- Net worth: $9.8 billion

Charlie Ergen made his fortune by co-founding satellite TV provider Dish Network and satellite communications company EchoStar. He and his wife Candy have recently ramped up their philanthropic efforts, pledging $200 million to their foundation.

#17. Gordon and Betty Moore

- Net worth: $10.1 billion

George Moore—the man behind Moore’s Law, the observation that computer processing power would double every year—co-founded Intel in 1968. Gordon and his wife in 2000 created the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, giving to projects that support environmental conservation, science, and patient care.

#16. Charles Butt

- Net worth: $10.7 billion

Texas businessman Charles Butt, who became the chairman and CEO of his family's business, H-E-B, in 1971, focuses many of his philanthropic efforts on education. Butt recently created a leadership institute dedicated to training public school leaders in Texas, which he hopes will impact all of the state’s 1,200 school districts. The initiative was inspired by his late mother.

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#15. Dustin Moskovitz and Cari Tuna

- Net worth: $11.1 billion

Facebook cofounder Dustin Moskovitz and his wife Cari Tuna were still in their 20s when they signed on to the Giving Pledge. The couple’s philanthropic foundation Good Ventures gives to a variety of causes ranging from mitigating global catastrophic risks to advancing scientific research. In 2016 the couple donated $20 million to Democratic groups to oppose Donald Trump’s election to the presidency.

#14. Pierre and Pam Omidyar

- Net worth: $12.3 billion

eBay founder and former chair Pierre Omidyar, along with his wife Pam, founded philanthropic investment firm Omidyar Network in 2004, giving money to a variety of nonprofits as well as for-profit companies “that serve overlooked populations with much-needed products and services,” such as microfinance, mobile payment, and solar energy.

#13. Hasso Plattner

- Net worth: $14.0 billion

German businessman Hasso Plattner launched the German software company SAP in 1972, serving as its CEO until 2003. His philanthropic foundation supports health care, health education, and HIV/AIDS research in South Africa.

#12. Carl Icahn

- Net worth: $17.0 billion

Wall Street investor Carl Icahn is known as a corporate raider and, more recently, a former Trump economic adviser, who left his political role amid controversy about conflict of interest. Icahn has donated large sums to a number of educational and health care institutions, including his alma mater Princeton University, Connecticut prep school Choate Rosemary Hall, and Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, all of which have named buildings or programs after him.

#10. Ray and Barbara Dalio (tie)

- Net worth: $18.7 billion

Ray Dalio made his fortune as the founder of Bridgewater Associates, the world's largest hedge fund firm. Since 2003 the Dalio family has given more than $1.32 billion to the Dalio Foundation to fund everything from polio eradication projects to community arts organizations.

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#10. HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz AlSaud (tie)

- Net worth: $18.7 billion

A member of the Saudi royal family, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is an investor with stakes in Lyft, Twitter, Four Seasons, and other companies all over the world. In 2015 he announced on his website that he would donate his entire fortune to philanthropic causes through Alwaleed Philanthropies, although his past philanthropic efforts have been met with some skepticism. He was arrested in November 2017 in an anti-corruption inquiry.

#9. Elon Musk

- Net worth: $19.8 billion

Founder of PayPal, Tesla Motors, and SpaceX, Elon Musk is the chair of the Musk Foundation, which funds efforts to bring solar energy to disaster areas. He agreed to donate $1 million in 2014 to help build the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe, and donated $10 million in 2015 to the Future of Life Institute for a research program aimed at keeping artificial intelligence “beneficial to humanity.”

#8. Vladimir Potanin

- Net worth: $20.6 billion

Russian oligarch Vladimir Potanin made his fortune when he acquired a stake in mining and smelting company Norilsk Nickel during Russia's controversial privatization in 1995. The Vladimir Potanin Foundation works to “foster the development of knowledge, professionalism, and philanthropy in Russia,” according to its website.

#7. Jim and Marilyn Simons

- Net worth: $21.6 billion

Founder of legendary hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, James Simons was dubbed "the world's smartest billionaire” by the Financial Times in 2006. He, along with his wife Marilyn, has reportedly given away $2.1 billion to philanthropic causes, mostly supporting math and science education, autism research, and health care.

#6. MacKenzie Bezos

- Net worth: $33.9 billion

After signing her divorce settlement from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Mackenzie Bezos pledged to give more than half of her wealth to charity. "We each come by the gifts we have to offer by an infinite series of influences and lucky breaks we can never fully understand," Bezos wrote in the letter she used to announce her pledge. "In addition to whatever assets life has nurtured in me, I have a disproportionate amount of money to share."

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#5. Michael R. Bloomberg

- Net worth: $47.9 billion

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg made his fortune with Bloomberg L.P., a financial information, media, and software company he co-founded in 1981. He has donated more than $4 billion to philanthropic causes, notably to the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign to address climate change and to the nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety, which advocates for stronger gun control laws.

#4. Larry Ellison

- Net worth: $65.6 billion

Oracle cofounder Larry Ellison wrote in his Giving Pledge letter that he had already put virtually all of his assets into a trust years before. He has given millions to Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, educational institutions, and health care organizations, including a $200 million pledge to the University of Southern California to establish a cancer treatment center.

#3. Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan

- Net worth: $66.7 billion

In an open letter to their newborn daughter in 2015, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan pledged to give away 99% of their Facebook shares over their lifetimes, focusing on “advancing human potential and promoting equality.” The couple has already supported a number of educational causes, including giving $100 million to the Newark school system and donating $120 million to their nonprofit Startup:Education, which supports education programs in the Bay Area.

#2. Warren Buffett

- Net worth: $80.4 billion

Revered as one of the most successful investors in the world, Warren Buffett is the CEO and chairman of the multinational conglomerate holding company Berkshire Hathaway. One of the initiators of the Giving Pledge, Buffett wrote in his letter that he would give away more than 99% of his wealth. According to CNBC he has given away more than $46 billion since 2000. Much of the money has gone to charitable foundations, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

#1. Bill and Melinda Gates

- Net worth: $104.2 billion

Bill Gates is as well known today for chairing the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with his wife as for co-founding Microsoft with Paul Allen. The couple’s foundation, which is the world’s largest private charitable foundation, is focused on improving global health and saving lives. Bill Gates has also made large personal donations to educational institutions, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University.

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