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Top 14 Entrepreneurs Who Give Back To The Community

Written by Cassidy North-Reist

Posted by Cassidy North-Reist on Dec 19, 2014 9:00:00 AM


‘Tis the season to give thanks and give back.  Forbes rounded up a list of the Top 14 Entrepreneurs Who Give Back To The Community and it’s a great reminder for us all to give back as we head into a new year.

As a successful entrepreneur, some consider it their obligation to give back to the community. For them, it’s not “just a tax write-off” or a way to boost their PR campaign. In fact, with the world’s leading entrepreneurs such as Tej Kohli, Mark Zuckerberg and Charles Johnson constantly making Top Philanthropist lists, it’s clear that it goes deeper than an angle. When someone is blessed with a lucrative business they started from scratch, they come to learn that nothing feels better than earning money on hard work, sweat and tears—except, perhaps, giving much of it back.

According to a survey backed by Ernst & Young and conducted by Australia’s Fidelity Charitable Gift Trust, 89 percent of entrepreneurs donate to charity. An additional 70 percent donate their time as well. If a company is led by an entrepreneur, their charitable giving is on average more than double of their peers who aren’t led by entrepreneurs. Here’s a look at the top 14 entrepreneurs who give back.

  1. Mark Zuckerberg

The Zuckerbergs regularly top the charts of most giving entrepreneurs. In 2013, they donated $1 billion (yes, with a “B”) to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation via company stock. Known for setting a great example as an entrepreneur and a philanthropist at a young age, the 29-year-olds have been moving Facebook shares over to non-profits for the past several years.

  1. Charles Johnson

Head of Franklin Resources BEN +1.87%, Charles Johnson donated $250 million in 2013 to Yale University. A former graduate, the 80-year-old takes giving back to his alma mater seriously. It might not seem “necessary” but private universities including Yale depend largely on the generosity of alums to keep producing world leaders.

  1. Sergey Brin

One of the co-founders of Google GOOGL +0.36%, Brin donated $219 million to his own foundation in 2013, which was founded along with his wife (whom he is now separated). The couple also generously donated to the Michael J. Fox Foundation. The Brin Wojcicki Foundation distributes funds to a variety of diverse non-profits.

  1. Paul Allen

In 2013, Allen donated $206 million largely to his own foundation, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, but also notably to the EMP Museum. The founder of Vulcan Capital and co-founder of Microsoft, he focuses on culture, education, arts and social services program largely in the Great Northwest. Like Brin, his foundation also distributes funds to other deserving organizations.

  1. Mark Cuban

You might know Mark Cuban, the well-known American business man and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, from his appearances on TV’s Shark Tank, but you might not be familiar with his philanthropic work. In 2003, Cuban started the Fallen Patriot Fund to help families of United States military personnel killed or injured during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Cuban matched the first one million dollars in contributions with funds from the Mark Cuban Foundation, which is run buy Mark’s brother Brian Cuban but does not directly operate any charitable activities. Rather, the Mark Cuban foundation supports charitable activities in the Dallas area and throughout the United States. Cuban is also reported to give freely to other charitable organizations.

  1. John and Laura Arnold

The Texas couple founded the Laura and John Arnold Foundation after Mr. Arnold founded the Centaurus Energy hedge fund company. In 2013, they donated $296.2 million mostly to their own Foundation. It supports K-12 public education, public policy reform, and scientific research.

  1. Stephen Ross

Donating $200 million to the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in 2013, Ross is the founder of Related Companies in New York—another real estate tycoon. When he made the massive pledge in autumn 2013, he said it was meant to inspire other alumni to give back and help reach the university’s massive $4 billion fundraising goal.

  1. Michael Bloomberg

It’s no surprise that Bloomberg donated largely to improving city governments on a global scale, but he also gifted funds to education, arts, public health and environmental groups. In total, he gave $452 million in 2013. The founder of the Bloomberg news and financial group is best known as New York’s mayor from 2001-2013, but now is focusing largely on philanthropy.

  1. Phil and Penelope Knight

As co-founder of Nike, Mr. Knight targets Oregon-based organizations. He donated $500 million to Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) in 2013, after OHSU asked “boldly” for $100 million. After seeing the incredible work being done, he shocked the non-profit teaching hospital by drastically upping the gift.

  1. Stephen Scwwarzman

As co-founder and current chairman of Blackstone Group, the investor directed $103 million towards Tsinghua University in 2013. The Beijing University approached him with a pitch for a campaign to attract international students. He sees China’s economic growth as a great haven for future leaders.

  1. David Rubenstein

As co-chief and co-founder of Carlyle Group, Rubenstein donated $121.7 million in 2013 largely to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, but also to a number of universities including Columbia and Duke. His goal is to donate to at least 10 non-profits each year.

  1. Alfred Mann

As the founder of numerous health-based businesses, Mann is equally committed to charity. He donated $70 million in 2013 to the Nevada Community Foundation, although he has yet to report on which programs his funding will support.

  1. Abraham Mitchell

Donating just over $50 million to the University of South Alabama, Mitchell co-founded the Mitchell Company and has always considered charitable giving a staple of his business practice. Specifically, he asked that half of his donation go towards scholarships.

  1. Lyda Hill

An entrepreneur from the start, Hill learned her way around business from her grandfather, oilman HL Hunt. She donated $63.2 million to a number of organizations in 2013 including the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and a Nature Conservatory.

Each of these 15 entrepreneurs understand the cycle of business, and life, is all about giving back. For them, “business as usual” includes spreading the wealth to causes they hold close to their hearts.

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