Philanthropy is a fantastic habit capable of being adopted by almost anyone. The process of giving back is not only beneficial to those in need, it is enriching to the mind and spirit of the philanthropist. This symbiotic reward concept is reason enough to consider a philanthropic act or initiative in the future.
Throughout history, there have been several notable figures who have epitomized what it means to be a philanthropist, showcasing then unprecedented generosity that has left an impressive legacy within the giving world. Here are a few of the greatest philanthropists in history.
John D. Rockefeller
Often considered the “wealthiest person in modern history,” John D. Rockefeller balanced his immense net worth with a variety of philanthropic initiatives throughout his life. Among his biggest philanthropic actions are an $80 million donation to the University of Chicago, the founding of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research in 1901, and the formation of the Rockefeller Foundation in 1913.
Andrew Carnegie
Alongside Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie is regularly regarded as a household name within philanthropy’s modern history. Carnegie spearheaded the expansion of the American steel industry during the late 19th century, growing to become one of the richest people in the world. However, also like Rockefeller, Carnegie’s massive wealth was channeled into many philanthropic acts — mostly during the later years of his life. Carnegie helped to establish 3,000 public libraries throughout the United States, Canada, and Britain. He also made many investments in education, including a $10 million dollar donation to establish the Carnegie Trust for the Universities in Scotland.
Bill Gates
Bill Gates stands as one of the most influential and prominent names in technology, co-founding the tech giant, Microsoft, and contributing to the general progression of computer-based technology in general. Gates also stands as a commonly referenced name in modern philanthropy. With his wife, Melinda, Gates helped to establish the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation in 2000, an initiative aimed at strengthened health care and reductions in poverty. In 2009, Gates joined Warren Buffett in pledging to give at least half of his annual earnings to charity henceforth.
Mark Zuckerberg
Currently ranked by Forbes as the 5th wealthiest person in the world, Mark Zuckerberg quickly became a giant in the modern technology landscape when he co-founded Facebook, arguably the most popular and widely-used social media outlet on the planet. Zuckerberg has continued philanthropic traditions put in motion by the aforementioned philanthropists, also signing the same “Giving Pledge” as Gates and making hefty donations to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and to efforts combating the Ebola virus, among other initiatives.