In a game of word association, most people on hearing the name Bill Gates would immediately say Microsoft.
Yet with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation having
already given away a staggering £20bn since its 2000 foundation, it’s a safe bet that
in a couple of decades' time, the charity will be more
famous than the tech giant he co-founded.
It’s already the biggest private foundation in the world, and arguably the most powerful. Since billionaire investor Warren Buffett pledged in 2006 to give the foundation most of his fortune, its firepower has almost doubled.
Gates, who has pledged to give away 95 per cent of his wealth, has taken on the charitable sector with the same kind of zeal with which he devised the Microsoft mission to get a PC in every home and business.
Read more on our Gates Foundation page
The Wellcome Trust has come a long way in a short time. In less than 80 years it’s gone from a charity with
£75,000 and no offices or staff to one of the highest spending charitable foundations in the world.
The trust funds 4,000 scientists and a wide array of medical and biomedical research including areas such as how genes affect health, how the brain functions as well as working on solutions to combat a variety of infectious diseases.
Its funding was key to ensuring data from The Human Genome Project – the complete set of genetic information for humans – was placed in the public domain. And it was the trust’s researchers which developed the Artemisinin anti-malarial drug, which is having a major impact on the treatment of the disease.
Read more on our Wellcome Trust page
For a Postcode Lottery player their address could be the luckiest thing that ever happened to them. Anyone
who wants to play provides their postcode which then becomes their ticket number. Using the postcode
means it’s not just one participant who wins a prize, but all the players in an entire street (postcode) or neighbourhood
It’s a simple format which, like any lottery, offers the opportunity to transform people’s fortunes. But in the case of this lottery it’s not only the player’s luck which will change, but also the charitable causes the lottery supports.
As Archbishop Desmond Tutu summed up it gives people the “joy of playing the lottery and at the same time donating to something worthwhile”.
Read more on our Postcode Lotteries page
La Caixa Foundation’s chairman Isidro Faine likes to quote the words of assassinated senator Robert
Kennedy to describe the Spanish bank’s attitude to charity.
“Senator, Robert F. Kennedy, once said ‘the future is not a gift; it’s an achievement'. These words remind us that our efforts in the present will determine our future,” he says. The foundation's roots stem directly from the Spanish bank which was set up by Catalan lawyer Francesc Moragas more than a century ago. Moragas had a deep sense of public responsibility and the bank was the first in Spain to provide social insurance.
Read more on our La Caixa Foundation page
It seems surprising that the area surrounding San Francisco Bay in northern California – arguably the world’s
supreme entrepreneurial hotspot – is in need of charitable assistance.
Yet despite the wealth of some in Silicon Valley thanks to the hi-tech giants and start-ups, there are also what Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) describes as “stubborn social challenges”.
SVCF focuses its charitable efforts on the Mateo and Santa Clara counties, a region where it says there are more jobs than homes, where one-third of the residents are immigrants and nearly two-thirds of those are under the age of 18.
Read more on our Silicon Valley Foundation page
"When General Johnson spoke everybody listened. I think there's a direct translation from the kind of standards the general
had at the company to what you see in the Robert Johnson foundation,” says Johnson & Johnson's former chief financial
officer Robert Campbell, now a trustee for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The foundation was set up by Robert Wood Johnson, the founder of healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson, with the lofty aim of improving both the health and the healthcare of all Americans. Known as “The General” for his services in World War II, the products his firm has created, such as Savlon, Neutrogena and Listerine, have become staples in many households across the world. When Johnson died in 1968, he left his 10.2m shares, then worth about £770m to the foundation.
Read more on our Johnson Foundation page
The Walton family is the richest in America, according to Forbes 2014 list. Their wealth has come from
their 51 per cent stake in retailing giant Walmart – the world’s largest retailer.
The Walton Family Foundation was set up by Walmart’s founders, Sam and Helen Walton, in 1988 when they
pledged to shake up the charity sector.
“We are going to approach philanthropy with the same lack of reverence we gave to the traditional methods of the retail business when we started out there,” said Sam Walton at the time. He vowed to shake up “time-honoured assumptions” about “how you can motivate ordinary people to do extraordinary things”.
Read more on our Walton Foundation page
“There is no greater joy than helping a young person explore more about God and the big questions
of this universe, as they journey through this life,” says Jane Gillis, a school community worker at
Christ Church Clifton, who is working with local schools to provide spiritual development opportunities.
Gillis’ work is one of many religious projects aimed at young people that the Church Commissioners helps to fund. It contributes more than £40m annually in the form of grants to dioceses, used mainly for clergy stipends, plus grants towards the Church Urban Fund and the Archbishops’ Council’s youth evangelism fund, for projects to enable young people to share their faith with peers as well as projects with a local focus.
Read more on our Church Commissioners page
"Think first of the other fellow,” was the first of David Packard’s 11 rules summing up his approach
to life. Packard, one half of the duo which set up computer manufacturing giant Hewlett
Packard, at one stage one of the world’s largest tech firms, started the company in a Californian garage with just
$538m (£344m). With such entrepreneurial flair, it’s hardly surprising the foundation he started with his wife
Lucile has gone on to be so effective.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the charity which was set up in 1964, to promote positive, lasting change in the areas the couple cared most about—the environment, science, children, reproductive health and their local community.
Read more on our Packard Foundation page
Considered one of Silicon Valley’s founding fathers, Gordon Moore is another seminal figure in the history
of computing to make it into the top 20 of the City A.M. Charity Index.
Almost five decades ago, Moore predicted computing power would double every two years – the so called “Moore’s Law”. His prophetic prediction (the desktop computer had yet to be invented) foretold the continuous stream of faster, better and cheaper hi-tech products which we’ve come to expect today. He went on to co-found chip maker Intel, where he served as both executive vice president, chief executive and chairman.
Read more on our Moore Foundation page
Billionaire investor George Soros is best known as “the man who broke the Bank of England” for his
bet against the pound which saw him profit when Britain crashed out of the Exchange Rate Mechanism in
Long before then in 1979, when he says he “had made more money than I needed for myself and my family,” he established Open Society Foundations to “promote the values and principles of a free and open society”.
The term “open society” – essentially a tolerant society allowing different views and in which people’s individual rights are protected – was popularised by philosopher Karl Popper who taught Soros when he was at the London School of Economics. “All our social institutions are imperfect and ought to hold themselves open to improvement that is the ideal of an open society,” says Soros, who is now chair of the foundation.
Read more on our Open Society page
"Never stifle a generous impulse,” was one of William Hewlett’s favourite sayings and he kept his word.
Hewlett, one half of the duo that set up computer manufacturing giant Hewlett Packard, has proved just as
generous as his HP co-founder David Packard.
In fact, it was the personal generosity of Hewlett, who passed away in 2001, that has made the Hewlett Foundation one of the nation’s largest, with assets of more than £5bn. Hewlett set up the foundation with his wife Flora and their eldest son Walter in 1967. The foundation’s ambitious goals include helping to reduce global poverty, limiting the risk of climate change and supporting education and performing arts in their home county in California.
Read more on our Hewlett Foundation page
Andrew Mellon was part of the same generation as well known figures John Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie and Henry Ford.
But Princeton University professor David Cannadine says even among such notable contemporaries, Mellon was unique.
“He excelled in four fields of endeavor: as a businessman and banker; as a politician and statesman; as an art
collector; and as a philanthropist,” he says.
During his life, Mellon gave away nearly £6.4m with his most famous gift being the money and the artwork to establish the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.
When Mellon passed away in 1937, his son and his daughter established separate foundations, which were merged in 1969 to create the Andrew Mellon Foundation.
Read more on our Mellon Foundations page
The MacArthur Foundation is probably best known for its so-called “genius grants” – more formally
known as the MacArthur Fellowships. These are grants of £399,000, spread out over a five-year period,
given to individuals “who show exceptional creativity in their work and the prospect for still more in the future”.
Since 1981 over 900 MacArthur Fellows have been named: no strings are attached to the grant, and recipients have included scientists, historians, poets and novelists, artists and composers. Around 20 to 25 are named each year from 2,000 nominations.
The foundation had assets of £4bn at the end of last year. During the year it spent £50.4m on its US programme, £48.9m on its international programme and £34.9m on its media, culture and special initiatives. In contrast the MacArthur Fellows Programme costs £7.47m.
Read more on our MacArthur Foundation page
‘It may be egotistical to make donations while one is still alive, but it certainly is fun,” said Knut Wallenberg.
The banker and politician started the foundation when he was 65 after being bedridden with illness
for almost a month. With no children, he thought it was time to start thinking about what happened with his
wealth once he and his wife Alice had passed away.
As one of Sweden’s wealthiest individuals, he’d already been inundated with requests, leading him to say: “I am inclined to give away most of my fortune at once, in order to be left alone and to simply say no to everyone.” Hence, in 1917 the Wallenberg Foundation was established with £1.7m and the aim of promoting scientific research, teaching and education of benefit to Sweden.
Read more on our Wallenberg Foundation page
‘I believe that people of substantial wealth potentially create problems for future generations unless they
themselves accept responsibility to use their wealth during their lifetime to help worthwhile causes,” said
Chuck Feeney, who set up The Atlantic Philanthropies in 1982.
Feeney made his fortune by starting the DFS duty free shopping giant, and argues that those fortunate enough to amass great wealth should use their wealth for a greater good. In the mid-1980s, Chuck quietly gave most of his wealth to the foundation: he's known for his frugality and owns neither a home nor a car and wears a £10 watch.
The Atlantic Philanthropies has made grants of more than £4.15bn focusing on promoting education, health, peace, reconciliation and human dignity in Australia, Bermuda, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United States and Vietnam.
Read more on our Atlantic Philanthropies page
With overall funding of around £118m a year the Volkswagen Foundation (Volkswagen Stiftung),
based in Hanover, is Germany’s largest private science research funding foundation.
Since it was founded more than 50 years ago, the foundation has given more than £3.3bn to support over 30,000 projects. While the foundation shares a name with the motor giant they are not affiliated although there is a historical link. The original funding for the foundation came from the German federal government and the Federal State of Lower Saxony, in the form of the proceed
Read more on our Volkswagen page
‘Our company’s vision and values have always included a focus on promoting long-term economic
prosperity and quality of life for everyone in our communities,” says Jon Campbell, head of Wells
Fargo’s Government and Community Relations team.
The American financial services firm traces its roots back to 1852 when the first Wells Fargo opened for business in the gold rush port of San Francisco, and it’s proud of its local roots. “We weren’t born as a national bank that then decided to be local. We were born as a local bank in one community that does business on Main Street and grew into a family of many local banks in many communities that only then became national,” it says when describing its values.
Read more on our Fargo Foundation page
Like Wells Fargo, Bank of America’s charitable focus is on helping out local communities. For 2014 it concentrated
on three main issues: housing, education and basic human services such as hunger.
Last year, the foundation contributed over £114m to address various issues within communities. One of the charities it has partnered with for the past 25 years is Habitat for Humanity – a charity which aims to build safe and affordable housing. In September, as part of a new £3.8m investment in the charity, it helped Habitat launch its first multi-city build, which took place over one week in 41 different communities globally. More than 1,100 of the bank's own staff volunteered during the event.
Read more on our Bank of America page
“If I am successful in getting out of debt, and become prosperous, I expect to make good use of any wealth that
may come to me,” wrote Will Keith Kellogg in 1909 – and he was as good as his word.
The breakfast cereal pioneer went on to become one of the world's richest men, and established the W.K. Kellogg foundation in 1930 with £42m, intending it to promote the welfare of children and young people. “Use the money as you please so long as it promotes the health, happiness and well-being of children,” he told the foundation’s trustees.
By 2012, the foundation’s assets had grown to more than £4.5bn. The foundation receives its income primarily from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Trust, which was set up by Kellogg. The trust also has a substantial stake in the Kellogg company.
Read more on our Kellogg Foundation page