20 of the world’s largest donors


The William H Gates Foundation was created in 1994 to work to improve global health. Created with an original stock gift of $94m (£60.5m), the foundation merged with the Gates Learning Foundation in 2000 to create the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The largest philanthropic organisation in the world, with total assets of $37.4bn, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation handed out $2.6bn in 2010. The foundation funds global health initiatives, agricultural development and education programmes. Bill and Melinda Gates, pictured, have placed a priority on eradicating diseases, like polio, through vaccinations.

Gates, in his 2011 annual letter, stressed the importance of governments and individuals continuing to give, despite the hard economic times.

“Under David Cameron’s leadership, the United Kingdom set a great example by keeping its promise to grow aid spending despite the cuts it had to make,” Gates said. “It is inspiring to see a leader stand up for what he believes is right, even when it isn’t easy.”

Though its headquarters are in Seattle in Washington State, the foundation has offices in Delhi, Beijing and London.


The Wellcome Trust was established following the death of Sir Henry Wellcome in 1936, to administer the fortune of the pharmaceutical philanthropist, pictured.

Based in London, it aims to encourage the public understanding of science, support biomedical research and influence health policy around the world.

Working towards improving the health of both humans and animals, the trust donated £602m in 2011.

Its aims include boosting the health benefits of genetics, increasing the understanding of brain and chronic illnesses, tackling infections or diseases and connecting the environment with nutrition and health.

“With the enormous possibility of development in chemistry, bacteriology, pharmacy and allied sciences… there are likely to be vast fields opened for productive enterprise for centuries to come," Sir Henry wrote in his will.

True to his prediction, the foundation has since developed many life-changing drugs, such as the first effective drug to fight leukaemia and a drug used to combat AIDS.

The Wellcome Collection is one of the best-known arms of the trust and is housed alongside the Wellcome Library in Euston. Its purpose is to enhance public understanding of medical science and history with a series of landmark exhibitions.

Having just celebrated its 75th anniversary, The Wellcome Trust has an endowment of £13.6bn.


Started in 1989 by Simon Jelsma, Boudewijn Poelmann, pictured, Frank Leeman and Herman de Jong, the charity supports a wide range of programs, such as UNICEF, the Red Cross and Amnesty International.

Since being set up, Novamedia/Postcode Lotteries has donated €4bn (£3.35bn) in total, including $700m (£451m) in 2010.

The group is comprised of five separate lotteries. The first three were started in the Netherlands, where currently 50 per cent of the revenues go to charity. After the success of these charity lotteries, the group launched two new lotteries in 2005, one in the United Kingdom and the other in Sweden.

The People’s Postcode Lottery in the UK donates 20 per cent of its profit to charity and all of the money raised by the UK lottery stays in the country. The lottery supports Children 1st, Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centre, Missing People and multiple wildlife trusts. Poelmann is chairman of City A.M.


The WK Kellogg Foundation, originally titled the WK Kellogg Child Welfare Foundation, was set up in 1930. It supports a number of causes, focusing on children and education, which is evident in its vision: “We envision a nation that marshals its resources to assure that all children have an equitable and promising future – a nation in which all children thrive.”

Created by breakfast cereal entrepreneur Will Keith Kellogg, pictured, the private foundation also advocates economic security for families, greater racial equality and civic engagement.

In 2010, the WK Kellogg Foundation committed $360m (£232m) for grants and put $289m towards various programmes that support caring for children and improving their lives.

While the foundation is based in Michigan with the Kellogg Company, it is tied to foundations all over the world, including in Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America.


Edsel Ford, pictured, the son of motor pioneer Henry Ford, established the Ford Foundation in the US in 1936 to advance scientific and educational efforts. The organisation started with a gift of $25,000 (£16,000) and last year gave out $506.8m in grants.

The organisation now has a wide array of objectives, including promoting human rights internationally, supporting sustainable development, funding educational opportunities and promoting economic fairness.

The Ford Foundation is particularly concerned about the widening gap between the rich and the poor.

“Too many voices today are silenced or ignored by their leaders; too many social opportunities are restricted to the wealthy few; and too many public institutions are impenetrable and closed to scrutiny,” according to Luis A. Ubiñas, the ninth president of the foundation.

Based in New York City, the Ford Foundation operates in 50 countries.


The Lilly Company, with a desire to improve the healthcare of the poor in low-income countries and to strengthen public education in the US, established the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation in 1968. In 2011, the pharmaceutical giant donated $430m (£277m) with this aim.

To achieve an improvement in global health, the company believes the brightest scientists in the world need to tackle the problem.

The Indiana-based foundation is encouraging scientific understanding in its early stages by helping primary school children improve in maths and science.

It works in the area of chronic or non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer and mental illness.

It is also funding research in the area of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis.

The foundation said it has not been affected by the economic downturn, and has seen its donations increase year-by-year.


The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) was founded in 1972 by Robert Wood Johnson to improve the health and healthcare of all Americans. The foundation donated $304m (£193.7m) towards these aims in 2011.

One of the foundation’s greatest achievements is the creation of the 9-1-1 emergency response system in America, which has been a model for other response systems in the world. The foundation also values end-of-life care and has established training and guidelines to promote quality healthcare.

Most recently the foundation has taken up the cause of childhood obesity and attempted to improve access to affordable healthy food. It also campaigns for more physical activities in schools and communities.

The foundation funds both private and public healthcare organisations and research on public health with research grants making up more than 20 per cent of awards.


Once one of the three wealthiest men in America, property and business owner John MacArthur started the Foundation with his wife in 1970, with the aim of promoting human rights, global conservation and security.

MacArthur was worth more than $1bn (£640m) when he died, 92 per cent of which he left to the foundation. The organisation currently has a net value of $5.6bn and donated $243.8m (£155.7m) in 2010.

Its international programmes, operating in 60 countries, focus on human rights, sustainable development, higher education and health. The foundation has offices in India, Mexico, Nigeria and Russia. The US arm funds community development, education and juvenile justice reform.

The economic crises and changes in world governments have increased the challenges for the foundation, according to its president, Robert Gallucci.


Founded in 1964 by David and Lucile Packard with an original endowment of $100,000, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation has many aims, including conservation and science, health and family and community development.

Last year the foundation donated $234m (£149m) to support these projects.

One of the primary focuses of the foundation is to improve the lives of children – one of the core desires of technology entrepreneurs David and Lucile Packard.

Though the organisation has long-term goals for each programme, it adjusts its short term strategies based on the economy and the money available to issue, especially during the economic downturn.

Headquartered in California, it is still considered a family foundation as the Packards’ children and grandchildren play an active role.


Gordon E Moore, one of the founders of Intel, established the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation in 2000 alongside his wife Betty, with the aim of advancing scientific research around the world and creating positive outcomes for future generations.

The foundation gave $233.5m (£149m) in grants during 2010 for its three areas of focus: science, environmental conservation and the San Francisco Bay Area.

The foundation’s total endowment is over $5bn and the projects it supports include Conservation International, Andes-Amazon Initiative and Marine Microbiology Initiative.

A fifth of grants go towards innovative research and it helps projects which are often overlooked by traditional grant-making bodies.

The California-based foundation seeks to improve the quality of life of its local community. Both Gordon and Betty Moore are involved in other philanthropic organisations and are active in their own charity.


The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation was founded by computer entrepreneurs William and Flora Hewlett and their son, Walter Hewlett in 1967. With assets valued at $7bn, the foundation donated $205.3m (£130.9m) last year to help tackle a wide array of issues, specifically global poverty, combating climate change and improving education.

Its work in global poverty includes providing grants to promote transparent governance, improving education in the developing world and ensuring access to family health. The foundation is based in California tries to boost local communities by raising educational standards and reducing teen pregnancy. Assets stood at $7.38bn in 2010.

Paul Brest, the president of the foundation, said it responded to the global financial crisis by issuing smaller grants and streamlining operating costs.


Established in 1924 by retailer Sebastian Kresge with an initial gift of $1.6m to help people on low incomes, the Kresge Foundation now has total assets of $3.1bn and awarded $158m (£100.74m) in grants for 2010 to fund community development. The Michigan-based foundation has seven programmes: arts and culture, community development, Detroit, education, environment, health and human services.

In order to promote its schemes, the foundation also partners with non-profit organisations and the public and private sector.

The Kresge family still plays a major role in the foundation, as Kresge’s son and many grandchildren serve on the board today.

Rip Rapsom, president of the Kresge Foundation, said the economic crisis has put foundations in perilous position, but he believes it is vital to continue giving in order “to buffer, to the fullest extent possible, the social and economic harm that disproportionately falls on low-income people during times of economic disintegration”.


Hedge fund manager Chris Hohn and his wife Jamie founded the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) in 2002.

The charity aims to deliver long-term improvements for children living in poverty in developing countries, particularly in Sub Saharan Africa and India.

Its main areas of activity are HIV/AIDS, emergency humanitarian aid and microfinance.

Some of CIFF’s current projects include combatting paediatric HIV/AIDs in Zimbabwe and reducing the child death rate from diarrhoeal diseases in Bihar, India. CIFF donated £60m last year and its total commitments over its lifetime are more than £100m. It also works closely with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.


The Leverhulme Trust was created in 1925 under the will of the First Viscount Leverhulme, a soap entrepreneur, to support research and education. Today the trust funds research projects, fellowships, studentships and bursaries across all academic areas, awarding grants of £50.2m in 2010. These can often be the trigger for turning talented postgraduates into full-time academics. The trust also provides funding for visiting professors to come to the UK. The charity has noted recent spending cuts and changes to student tuition fees, which will affect its giving. Trust chairman Sir Michael Perry said: “Academics are operating in an increasingly complex world, often with conflicting stress and strains.”


The Andrew W Mellon Foundation, named after the banker and politician, was created by Paul Mellon and Alisa Mellon-Bruce in honour of their late father. The foundation formed in 1969 after a merge of the siblings’ separate foundations, Avalon Foundation and the Old Dominion Foundation, the roots of which go back to 1940.

In 2010 the foundation awarded $67.1m (£42.74m) in grants toward higher education while also supporting museums and art conservation, the performing arts, environmental conservation, scholarly communications and information technology.

The foundation has more than $6bn in its endowment and its total yearly grant making is around $300m. The foundation has offices in New York City and Princeton, New Jersey.


The Monument Trust is one of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts, founded in 1965 by Simon Sainsbury who wanted an outlet for his philanthropic interests.

The trust offers grants towards health and community care particularly projects relating to HIV/AIDS and sexual health in Britain and Africa, as well as criminal justice schemes and arts and heritage projects. It also helps areas of economic stagnation. Monument donated £37.5m this year, including £90,000 towards bursaries at the Youth Music Theatre UK, just under £880,000 to the Institute of Cancer research and £300,000 to the Prison Reform Trust. Since Simon Sainsbury’s death in 2006, his civil partner Stewart Grimshaw has been chairman of the Monument Trust.


Set up by David Sainsbury in 1967, just four years after he graduated from university, the Gatsby Charitable Foundation donated $55.4m (£35.3m) in 2010.

The foundation focuses on six areas: plant science research, neuroscience research, science and engineering education, economic development in Africa, public policy research and advice, and the arts.

The charity was also instrumental in the founding of the Centre for Mental Health, and is currently working in partnership with the Tanzanian government to transform the country’s cotton sector.

Since his first grant of £50 to the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine almost 45 years ago, Lord Sainsbury has distributed more than £1bn to charitable causes via Gatsby.


Willard Garfield Weston, a Canadian businessman who moved to the UK in 1932, set up the foundation in 1958 with his wife Reta. As the creator of Associated British Foods, Garfield Weston senior – who was later succeeded by his son – endowed the foundation with family-owned company shares. The charity is today the ultimate controller of the food company, and also has shares in Fortnum and Mason and Heal’s. The Garfield Weston Foundation supports a wide range of organisations across the UK, considered on a case-by-case basis, with the exception of animal welfare charities. It also helps churches and hospitals, which might be exempt from other grants. The charity, whose trustees are all descendents of the founder, donated $52.96m (£33.7m) in 2010. It has a sister charity in Canada, the W Garfield Weston Foundation.


Established in 1955, the Wolfson Foundation was created by Sir Isaac Wolfson with his wife and son – Lord Leonard Wolfson, who until his death last year had been chairman since 1972.

Its money has come from investments in clothing and furniture manufacturers, retail chains and mail order. The charity exists to support progress in the fields of science, medicine, heath, education and the arts and has helped more than 8,000 projects since it was set up.

It donated £31.3m for the year 2010-11, with £1.25m of this awarded to University College London Hospitals for a new cancer centre and £2.25m invested in supporting conservation at National Trust properties.

It has also worked closely with the Royal Society. The Wolfson Foundation endowment is currently £725m. The board of trustees is still made up of family members and eminent academics.


The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation was established in 1961 by Ian Fairbairn, a City man, as a memorial to his wife Esmée, who had been central in the development of the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service and was killed in a Second World War air raid.

Fairbairn endowed the foundation with the bulk of his holdings in investment firm M&G. This stake was sold in 1999, increasing the value of the endowment significantly.

The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation aims to commit £30m annually towards innovative or unusual initiatives which might struggle to find funding elsewhere, primarily in the arts, education, the environment and improving quality of life for disadvantaged people.

In 2010, the London-based foundation donated a total of £30.8m.