1. Warren E. Buffett
Total Amount Committed: $43,549,295,000 (2006)
Foundation: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Source of Wealth: Chairman and CEO; Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
Forbes 400 Ranking: #2
Born in 1930, 80-year-old Warren Buffett has made money investing for almost his entire life, becoming the world’s third wealthiest person. His passion for making money, however, is matched by his desire to give that wealth away. Buffett has pledged to give away the majority of his fortune to charitable foundations, with the bulk of that amount going to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This is a recent development in his charitable intentions, sparked by the death of his wife in 2004, as he originally planned on waiting until his own demise before giving away the majority of his wealth. Buffett has also ensured that the money he donates is spent in a timely manner, as he has required that each of his payments to the foundation is only delivered if the amount of his previous donation has been spent within the previous year.
2. William H. (Bill) III and Melinda F. Gates
Total Amount Committed: $11,020,000,000
Foundation: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Source of Wealth: Chairman and Co-Founder; Microsoft (Bill)
Forbes 400 Ranking: #1 (Bill)
Although he has recently been surpassed as the world’s richest person, Bill Gates maintains the position of richest American with his fortune of approximately $54 billion. Although he made his money through his work at Microsoft, which he founded with Paul Allen in 1975, Gates has since stepped down from working full-time at the famed technology corporation to focus his efforts on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which he runs alongside his wife. The foundation, which has an endowment of $33.5 billion, is used by the Gates to combat global illness and poverty, and to promote education within the United States. With regards to his money, Gates has said that “beyond a reasonably limited amount, it all goes to charity,” implying the philanthropic mindset which he and foundation co-trustee Warren Buffet have come to be recognized for.
3. Gordon and Betty Moore
Total Amount Committed: $6,132,567,953 (2001)
Foundation: Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
Source of Wealth: Co-Founder and Former Chairman Emeritus of Intel Corporation (Gordon)
Forbes 400 Ranking: #88 (Gordon)
Gordon Moore helped found technology company Intel in 1968, where he became president and CEO in 1975, chairman and CEO in 1979, and was named chairman emeritus in 1997. In continuation with his lifelong interest in science, Moore founded the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation alongside his wife in 2000. In 2001, the couple pledged over $6 billion in stock to the foundation, which aims “to achieve significant, lasting and measurable results in environmental conservation, science and the San Francisco Bay Area.” Gordon is currently considered to be worth $3.5 billion, according to Forbes.
4. Eli and Edythe Broad
Total Amount Committed: $2,055,721,000
Foundation: The Broad Institute, The Broad Foundations, The Broad Art Foundation
Source of Wealth: Co-Founder; Kaufman and Broad (real estate), Co-Founder and Former CEO of SunAmerica (Eli)
Forbes 400 Ranking: #44 (Eli)
A truly self-made billionaire, Eli Broad established his fortune through real estate and finance. However, After selling his company, SunAmerica, to AIG in 1998, Broad has focused his attention on philanthropy alongside his wife, Edythe. The Broads give away a substantial amount each year to various causes, and have made it on the list of top 50 American philanthropists each year of the decade. One of the Broads’ most recognized efforts is the couple’s bountiful art collection which they frequently loan out. Broad also has plans to build his own art museum in downtown Los Angeles.
5. Herbert M. and Marion O. Sandler
Total Amount Committed: $1,278,626,148 (2006)
Foundation:: Sandler Family Supporting Foundation
Source of Wealth: Co-founders; Golden West Financial Corporation
Forbes 400 Ranking: N/A
After selling the Golden West Financial Corporation, which the Sandlers co-founded and acted as co-CEOs for, to Wachovia Bank in 2006, just preceding the credit crisis, Herbert and Marion Sandler found themselves in possession of around $2.4 billion. Of this, they donated almost $1.3 billion to their Sandler Family Supporting Foundation, which funds various educational, medical, and civil liberties causes through organizations such as the Center for Responsible Lending, ProPublica, and the ACLU. Due to the relative magnitude of the couple’s donation, which consisted of over half their newly found fortune, they no longer rank on the Forbes list of wealthiest Americans.