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Published On: Wed, Sep 6th, 2017

You’ve Probably Never Heard of These 8 Super Generous Philanthropists

You’ve heard of the Rockefellers, who stood astride the industrial world at the turn of the 20th century.

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You’ve heard of Andrew Carnegie, the down-on-his-luck Scottish immigrant who came to America and turned his brains and brawn into a vast fortune.

You’ve heard of Henry Ford, the controversial genius behind the modern assembly line and, more likely than not, the namesake of at least one car on your block.

You’ve heard of Warren Buffett, the octogenarian investing savant who revolutionized America’s relationship with value creation.

What do these four families and individuals have in common? They’ve all given, or plan to give, the bulk of their fortunes to charitable causes — billions and billions of dollars that aren’t being spent on sprawling estates, exotic cars, private planes, lavish vacations in Monaco or Dubai.

They also have much higher profiles than the average philanthropist. For every Buffett or Gates, there’s a gaggle of under-the-radar philanthropists devoted to quiet charity — not because it brings them attention or glory, but because it’s the right thing to do.

Here’s a look at eight such philanthropists, their projects, and their passions.

  1. Eli Broad

Spend a day or two driving around Los Angeles and you won’t think local magnate Eli Broad — or his family name, at least — is particularly “under the radar.” The “Broad” marque adorns some of the city’s most prominent institutions of art and higher learning, from

It’s not just L.A. Broad donates generously to arts and culture institutions across the United States. That’s his M.O. He’s also a huge booster of education initiatives in underserved communities — the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation’s urban education prize is one of the country’s largest single grants for education innovators. Next time you see something nice in the news about your local school district, you might just have the Broads to thank.

  1. Pierre Omidyar

eBay founder Pierre Omidyar has stepped back from day-to-day operations at the auction giant and thrown himself into global philanthropy as founding partner of the Omidyar Network, a diverse grantmaking organization with an eye-popping endowment and ambitions to match.

Like a true Silicon Valley entrepreneur, Omidyar is evangelical about the potential of every individual. As he puts it, the Omidyar Network “creates opportunity for individuals to connect with others and discover their power to make a difference in the world.” He’s driven by a “conviction that the world thrives when we prioritize treating others with compassion, dignity, and a respect for diversity” — and he’s put more than $1 billion of his family’s money where his mouth is.

  1. Dietmar Hopp

Germany might not have its own Silicon Valley, but it definitely has a lively crop of self-made tech billionaires. Dietmar Hopp is one of the wealthiest: the SAP founder’s net worth is estimated at more than $6 billion, a figure made all the more impressive by the fact that he’s given away a nine-figure sum over the course of his long life. Hopp’s foundation focuses on medical technology, education, and social justice in Europe and abroad.

  1. Jon Huntsman

You might know Jon Huntsman, Jr., as a former governor of Utah, two-time Republican presidential hopeful, and current ambassador to Russia. He’s the scion of a famed chemical products fortune that’s just a few ticks south of Dow and DuPont on the name recognition front.

But Huntsman, Jr. isn’t the most generous of the Huntsman brood. That honor goes to his dad, Jon Huntsman, Sr., who (it must be said) did more to build the family’s fortune than pere. He gave away more than $1 billion during his long, eventful life — the bulk of his lifetime earnings.

  1. Paul Allen

Paul Allen is the other founder of Microsoft. Were it not for the looming shadow of his co-founder, he’d easily be remembered as one of the tech industry’s most generous individuals.

Unlike Steve Ballmer, another uber-wealthy Microsoft veteran and current owner of the L.A. Clippers, Allen hasn’t spent his wealth on sports teams and luxury living (though he certainly lives comfortably). Instead, he’s poured the bulk of his considerable fortune — more than $2 billion — into the coffers of the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.

The foundation “looks for gaps — in research, knowledge, and tools — that when they are filled have large scale impact,” according to its website. Well, that’s one way of putting it. Major targets of Allen’s largesse include Alzheimer’s research and homelessness in the Pacific Northwest.

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  1. Joe Biden

Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden? Not exactly under-the-radar, this one. Biden is one of the five best-known politicians in the United States, perhaps, but few know that he’s also one of its most ambitious philanthropists.

Biden himself — along with his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, who’s arguably more important to the cause than he — isn’t made of money. However, he can and does use his considerable profile to advocate on behalf of worthy causes the world over. At the moment, the Bidens are working on a “cancer moonshot” in honor of their son Beau, who was cut down by an aggressive brain tumor before his 47th birthday.

  1. Carlos “Slim” Helu

In most of the world, Slim’s name recognition is next to nothing. In Mexico, of which he’s far and away the richest citizen, he’s practically a god — somewhere between Bill Gates and Vladimir Putin on the domestic admiration spectrum.

That’s due in large part to Slim’s unparalleled generosity to causes near and dear to his countrymen’s hearts. Slim is especially devoted to Mexico’s incredible biodiversity: he’s almost singlehandedly kept the World Wildlife Fund operating in the country.

  1. Azim Premji

Indian billionaire Azim Premji made his fortune on Wipro, one of the country’s top tech firms. He then devoted the remainder of his life to supporting his vast country’s struggling education system — pumping billions of his hard-earned dollars into education and extracurricular programs that primarily serve India’s swelling underclass. He’s particularly proud of his Computer Aided Learning program, which offers instruction in 18 Indian and world languages — the importance of which is impossible to overstate in a polyglot nation.

Author: Zainab Sheikh

 

About the Author

- Outside contributors to the Dispatch are always welcome to offer their unique voices, contradictory opinions or presentation of information not included on the site.

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  1. It’s the right thing to do.

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