BusinessWeek has published a list of the 50 most generous philanthropists of 2003. With investments of nearly $23 billion into global health and education causes, there’s little surprise that Bill and Melinda Gates topped the list. The article revealed, however, that during this year the Gateses gave away over half their family’s wealth. Cynics of course will grumble that for them, $23 billion is chicken feed. Perhaps, but that chicken feed is significantly greater than the combined sum donated by the other 49 philanthropic families. I’ve written recently about the Gates Foundation and so that’s not what this article is about.
It's more that 16 of the 50 largest family fortunes being redistributed to seemingly worthy causes was amassed by technology community players. About one-third of the 50 largest philanthropists are from the tech sector. Many of the names like Gordon Moore (#2) and Michael Dell (#6) are people who amassed enormous wealth by perceiving, developing and distributing technologies that have changed the world. Now they get to change it again by giving some of it back. BusinessWeek observes tech sector philanthropists are more hands-on than previous moguls who traditionally let their fortunes gather gather dust until they did the same. The new philanthropists, BusinessWeek says, would rather manage their bequests as they managed companies, demanding ROI, thus redefining the nature of non-profit fund management. All this seems to me to be a good thing.
In addition to the Gateses, the 15 tech philanthropists are:
Gordon and Betty Moore, $7 billion to conservation and education; Dr. Moore, an Intel co-founder is father of Moore’s Law; Michael and Susan Dell, this year donated $1.25 billion to children’s health; Patrick McGovern, founder of IDG and his wife Lore, $351 million to brain research; Jeff Skoll, ex-president of eBay, $347 million to social services; Paul Allen, Microsoft co-founder, Vulcan Ventures co-founder and Portland Trailblazers owner, $317 million to art and culture; Bill Coleman BEA systems co-founder and wife Claudia, $252 million to cognitive disabilities; Irwin Jacobs, Qualcomm co-founder and his wife Joan, $226 million to the arts and education; Pierre Omidyar founder of eBay and wife Pam, $214 million to building communities; David Duffield, Peoplesoft co-founder and his wife Cheryl, $152 million to animals, humane societies and education; Henry Samueli, Broadcom chairman & founder, $150 million to the arts; Jim Barksdale, Netscape co-founder and his wife Sally, $110 million to Mississippi education and literacy; Philip Berber, CyberCorp.com and his wife Donna, $102 million for Ethiopian anti poverty programs; and Jim Clark, Netscape co-founder whose $95 million for biomedical engineering earned him the 50th spot on the list.
If any are looking for new areas in need, I’d like to discuss subsidizing needy bloggers.