The people that I was most interested in regarding philanthropy are all involved in providing funds on a large scale to various causes, including engaging other affluent people to join their activities by giving away billions of dollars. This paper will describe the philanthropic activities of Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and George Soros.
Originally, Bill Gates was interested in many philanthropic efforts to bring the Internet to the developing world, but eventually he disavowed that goal, causing some irritation by other philanthropists (Bill Gates Talks about the Heartbreaking Moment That Turned Him to Philanthropy.) He became extremely interested in health issues in the developing world, specifically the development of a malaria vaccine. He had formerly been putting a great deal of money into bringing computers to areas in Africa that were extremely impoverished. However, in 1997 when he witnessed the dire living conditions in those countries, he had a complete turnaround regarding the way he wanted to spend money to help the people there. His change of heart involved understanding the challenges that were facing the people in poor countries in Africa, where “getting enough food, having decent health, getting electricity, a reasonable place to live,” was much more important than having them connect to the Internet (Bill Gates Talks about the Heartbreaking Moment That Turned Him to Philanthropy.) The significance of the contributions of money that he has poured into these countries has literally been life-saving because of the provision of healthcare, concrete help such as food, shelter, and clothing, and assistance that essentially caused people to survive. He became committed to solving poverty in the developing nations.
If I had the funds available to Bill Gates and his wife, I would also want to provide the essential services to people in need, but I might begin by concentrating on those in need in the United States. There is a great deal of poverty right here in this country, and I would want to emulate his focus on helping people survive the state of being poor, but again, I would do it on a domestic basis.
Warren Buffett made a pledge in 2006 to give a great deal of money, deriving from a specific stock, to a range of philanthropic organizations. Following that, he joined with the Gates Foundation to approach other people with billions of dollars in the United States to pledge at least 50% of their wealth for charitable purposes (Buffett.) He repeated this pledge again, promising that he would give more than 99% of his assets to philanthropy while he is alive and even after he dies. Therefore, his philanthropy has been to engage other billionaires in charitable giving. He has become an expert in how to get rich, so that he is considered to be an authority on making money; he takes this expertise one step further to influence those people to turn their profits into charitable giving. Therefore, he is indirectly impacting the lives of a countless number of people through the huge numbers of charitable organizations that are now receiving money from the billionaires that he has encouraged to be involved in philanthropy. If I had all the money that Buffett has, I believe that it would be a really worthwhile use of this money to approach other wealthy people and engage them in helping others by donating money to a large range of charitable organizations. Because Buffett is so respected in the business community as a knowledgeable capitalist, people tend to take his financial advice to heart, and can then be encouraged to direct some of their money and profits to helping others. I admire very much the fact that he has wanted to spread his message to many other people who have been fortunate from a financial perspective.
George Soros founded and chairs an organization called Open Society, which is a collaboration of foundations, partners, and projects in over 100 countries around the world (George Soros.) He has been committed to the concept of “open society” in which people’s rights are respected, the government is held accountable, and no person has a monopoly on what is true. As a result, his Open Society Foundation differs from any other private philanthropy group. Initially, Soros gave scholarships during the period of apartheid in South Africa, helping black South Africans. During the 1980s, he helped to sabotage Communism by donating Xerox machines in order to let people copy texts that were banned, while supporting cultural exchanges with the West (George Soros.) Generally, Soros has become involved in international and political issues that have shown a spotlight on some of the worst political unrest and violence in various countries. By exposing these heinous activities, he has been able to accomplish change in those very situations by mobilizing people to rebel against the status quo.
If I had the money that Soros does, I would also be interested in providing funding to help ameliorate intolerable conditions around the world, such as the Syrian civil war in which hundreds of thousands of refugees have been stuck in camps, unable to return home, and living in appalling conditions. I also respect his commitment to transparency, i.e. that he has been determined to hold governments accountable for the way that their people are suffering or unable to achieve a livable quality of life. I would not necessarily use my money for anything different, because he gives money directly to those causes that he finds disgraceful and he plays a role in trying to make real changes on a long-term basis to help the populations that are involved. I would like to think that if I had his resources, I would also be committed to making the world a better place, and improving the lives of people who otherwise have no chance to change their circumstances. In addition, however, I might also want to focus some of the attention and the money on the poor conditions of people in the United States. Again, there are many marginalized people in this country who could be helped greatly by having some benefactors concretely donate money to their situations.
- “Bill Gates Talks about the Heartbreaking Moment That Turned Him to Philanthropy.” 21 January 2015. Business Insider. Web. 14 April 2016.
- “George Soros.” 2016. Open Society Foundation.org. Web. 14 April 2016.
- Warren Buffett. “My Philanthropic Pledge.” n.d. Giving Pledge.org. Web. 14 April 2016.