It’s easy to picture legends in the financial industry as multi-billionaires living lavish lifestyles, dating supermodels, living in luxurious mansions, and swimming in bathtubs full of dollar bills. However, some of the folks that’ve actually made it big decided to channel their earnings to more noble endeavors. Here are five heroes of the finance world who are also known for their philanthropy.
Not only is Warren Buffett famous for being the most successful investor in the world and for being consistently ranked as one of the top wealthiest people, but he is also one of the pioneers of venture philanthropy. This involves taking concepts and techniques from venture capitalism and business management then applying these to achieving philanthropic goals.
Buffett has expressed his intention to give 83% of this wealth to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, along with the equivalent of 10 million Berkshire Hathaway Class B shares, which amounts to the largest charitable donation in history. Among the primary aims of this foundation is to enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty, on top of expanding educational opportunities and access to information technology.
Buffett also created a foundation of his own, which is called Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation in honor of his wife who died in 2004. The foundation donated nearly $3.8 million to Planned Parenthood and International Projects Assistance Services, which manufactures handheld suction pumps used in developing countries to initiate abortions. It also provides a large range of grants to international organizations such as the Willows Foundation in Turkey, the World Food Programme in Italy, Marie Stopes International in the United Kingdom, and Grupo de Informacion en Reproduccion Elegida in Mexico.
In 2008, Buffett auctioned his 2001 Lincoln Town Car to raise money for Girls, Inc. In 2007, he auctioned a luncheon with himself for the Glide Foundation. In 2010, he signed the “Gates-Buffet Giving Pledge” along with Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg in which they promised to donate at least half of their wealth to charity and invite other wealthy folks to do the same.
Richard Branson is famous for his Virgin brand, which includes the Virgin Records music label, Virgin Mobile, and Virgin Atlantic. In 2000, he was knighted in Buckingham Palace for services to entrepreneurship. Branson is also notorious for his extreme sports and world record-breaking attempts.
Branson has also had his share of humanitarian initiatives. He was the founding sponsor of the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children and is part of The Elders, which is a group of world leaders using their collective skills to create peaceful resolutions to long-standing conflicts. Other members of this group include Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, and Jimmy Carter. Branson launched Virgin Startup, an official delivery partner of the UK Startup Loans Programme, through which he provides loans to entrepreneurs.
Another famous investor who was knighted is Sir John Templeton who is one of the pioneers of mutual fund investing. He passed away in 2008.
As a philanthropist, he established the John Templeton Foundation which funds interdisciplinary research about human purpose and the ultimate reality. It gives grants to areas that address science, character development, freedom and free enterprise, exceptional cognitive talent and genius, and genetics.
Templeton College in Oxford was also named after him before being merged with Green College in 2008. He was named as one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2007 under the category of “Power Givers” for his pursuit of spiritual understanding and often thorough scientific research. He is known for being uninterested in consumerism, driving his own car and never flying first class.
Of course the “Man Who Broke the Bank of England” would be part of this list. Not only is George Soros known for his huge pound short position during the 1992 UK Black Wednesday crisis, but he is also famous for being supportive of American progressive and liberal policies. He has donated roughly $11 billion in total to various philanthropic causes from 1979 to 2015 and has provided one of Europe’s largest higher education endowments to the Central European University in Budapest.
In fact, Soros has been an active philanthropist since the 1970s, providing funds to help black students attend the University of Cape Town in apartheid South Africa. He has also funded efforts to promote the non-violent democratization of post-Soviet states.
Known to basketball fans as the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban is also a prominent investor and businessman. He is also one of the “sharks” in the television series Shark Tank, which provides funding to startup entrepreneurs who give their sales pitch in front of the panel.
Most of his funding ventures focus on startups in social software and distributed networking industries. Among his investments are in IceRocket, RedSwoosh, Brondell Inc., Goowy Media Inc., Sharesleuth.com, and Weblogs Inc. In 2008, he created Bailoutsleuth.com as an online portal for oversight for the US government’s $700 billion bailout of financial institutions after the recession. As a Shark Tank investor, he has invested in 82 deals across 109 episodes of the show.
Cuban has also donated to several political campaigns, including to those of Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah and Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren of California. He started the Fallen Patriot Fund to help families of US military personnel killed or injured during the Iraq War, personally matching the first $1 million in contributions from his funds with the Mark Cuban Foundation.
In 2009, he created the Mark Cuban Stimulus Plan which involved an open exchange of ideas that involve stimulating the economy.
Cuban has also starred in several television series and films, including Entourage, WWE Survivor Series, Dancing with the Stars, The Simpsons, and The Men Who Built America. In 2011, he wrote an e-book called How to Win at the Sport of Business in which he shares his experiences in life, business, and sports. He owns film distributor Magnolia Pictures and Landmark Theaters, and he has repeatedly expressed interest in owning a Major League Baseball franchise.
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