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7 Prime Feminine Philanthropists Who Put Their Billions To Good Use

7 Prime Feminine Philanthropists Who Put Their Billions To Good Use


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For as long as humans have existed, so too has charity and the charitable acts it entails. While the notion that philanthropy is best left to the rich should be dispensed with, it is an inevitable fact: the rich simply have more to share. To give is to love, and these famous female philanthropists have shown us just how billions can be put to good use in uplifting the voices of those in need.

Just who is the modern day philanthropist and what are their endowments capable of doing? While the average lay person like you and I may contribute what we can to causes of our choosing, larger donations from the ultra-high net worth set can change the course of a charity for the greater good. History has more than proven this; more than one institution of higher education was funded by the good graces of the wealthy elite. And that’s not all.

Who are some philanthropists and what have they contributed?

In the early days of the pandemic, Dolly Parton famously donated USD 1 million to fund Coronavirus research. The Elton John AIDS Foundation raises funds to support HIV-related programs on a global scale. The Streisand Foundation, founded by Barbara Streisand, has donated over USD 25 million to some 800 organisations in support of women’s issues, environmental preservation, and more. And who can hold a conversation about charity without discussing the Oprah Winfrey Foundation, which has donated over USD 40 million in aid of women and children globally?

On a smaller scale is actor Michael Sheen, renowned for playing one half of Neil Gaiman’s ‘ineffable husbands’ duo on the Good Omens series, which has enjoyed the love of a devoted cult following. In an interview with The Big Issue, the actor shared, “I’ve essentially turned myself into a social enterprise, a not-for-profit actor.”

While it’s prudent to acknowledge that we’re a long way from utopia, these acts of generosity and kindness deserve to be celebrated. With that, we’re looking at some top female philanthropists who are doing their part in uplifting the voices of the needy – whilst also putting their billions to good use.

7 top female philanthropists who are uplifting the underserved with hefty contributions

Melinda French Gates

uplifting famous modern day top female philanthropist
(Image: Melinda French Gates/@melindafrenchgates/Instagram)

With a current net worth of USD 10.6 billion, Melinda French Gates sits firmly among the world’s top female philanthropists, uplifting underserved communities through donations made via The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The foundation, which she founded alongside her ex-husband, Microsoft founder and billionaire Bill Gates, is the second largest philanthropic organisation in the world. With an endowment of nearly USD 70 billion, it operates in over 130 countries in support of healthcare enhancement, the eradication of poverty, the expansion of educational opportunities, and more. Since its founding and as of the fourth quarter of 2022, the foundation has paid out USD 71.4 billion in grants.

On a personal level, Melinda’s personal causes include maternal and child health, access to contraception, and gender equality; to date, her philanthropic contributions have been valued at over USD 39 billion.

MacKenzie Scott

(Image: Greg Doherty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

Coming in 9th in 2023’s list of richest female billionaires is novelist MacKenzie Scott, ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos with a net worth of USD 41.1 billion. Upon finalising her high-profile divorce in April of 2019, Scott received USD 38.3 billion in Amazon stock as well as a 4% stake in the online retailer. However, this top female philanthropist has since committed to giving away her fortune, publicly pledging to keep at it ‘until the safe is empty’. Scott’s page on The Giving Pledge provides insight into her personal mission; she writes, “We each come by the gifts we have to offer by an infinite series of influences and lucky breaks we can never fully understand. In addition to whatever assets life has nurtured in me, I have a disproportionate amount of money to share. My approach to philanthropy will continue to be thoughtful. It will take time and effort and care. But I won’t wait.”

Scott’s methods for disbursement frequently go under the radar, with many early recipients dismissing her team’s efforts at reaching out for spam. Despite having given away USD 2.1 billion in gifts in 2023 alone, Scott prefers to maintain a low profile and rarely gives out interviews. In 2022, Scott set up Yield Giving, a charitable organisation and website that details her financial gifts. According to the website, to date, her network of staff and advisors have yielded over USD 16,500,000,000 to 1900+ non-profit teams and organisations to ‘use as they see fit for the benefit of others’. These gifts are spread out across a multitude of causes from Economic Security and Opportunity and Education to Environment, Equity, and Justice.

Melanie Perkins

(Image: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile for Web Summit via Getty Images)

CEO and co-founder of Canva and top female philanthropist Melanie Perkins totes a net worth of USD 3.6 billion – and she’s putting it to good use. Along with her co-founder and husband Cliff Obrecht, Perkins is of the belief that they are ‘purely custodians’ of their company’s earnings, adding that it has never felt like her personal money. The story of the tech design start-up is a true rags-to-riches epic; once rejected by 100 venture capitalists, it eventually took off to great aplomb, earning its highest ever valuation at USD 40 billion in 2021. Though its current valuation sits at a tidy USD 25.6 billion, a USD 14 billion markdown, there’s still a lot of wealth to give away.

To this end, the dynamic duo set up the Canva Foundation in 2020, pledging to commit their 30 percent equity in the company to philanthropic endeavours across the world. To date, the foundation has provided grants totalling up to USD 14,989,295, fueling charities dedicated to fighting against homelessness, food insecurity, illiteracy, housing insecurity, and more. Perkins herself feels strongly about giving, a sentiment echoed by the company she has built. The end goal: be one of the most valuable companies in the world and do the most amount of good possible.

Rihanna

With a net worth of USD 1.4 billion as of 2023, Rihanna is the epitome of a self-made woman, a powerful force of nature that has earned her success in more ways than one. As one of the most recognisable singers, actresses, and business owners of our era, she is known for her creative work, as well as for her iconic, inclusive cosmetics brand Fenty Beauty. But that’s not all – she’s also an activist, advocate, and all-rounded top female philanthropist with a long history of uplifting the underserved.

The global superstar’s dance with charity began at the tender age of 18, when she founded the Believe Foundation in aid of terminally ill children. Since then, her spirit of giving has only grown, evident in the philanthropic work that marks her life of hard-won fame and success. In 2017, she was named Harvard’s Humanitarian of the year; in 2018, she was named ambassador of education for the country of Barbados, from which she hails. Harbouring a deep passion for education in young people, she has clearly flourished in this role. She founded her own charity in 2012 – the Clara Lionel Foundation, named for her grandparents. Since 2016, she has invested USD 5 million in support of accessible education; she also continues to raise funds for her foundation through her annual Diamond Ball, where high entrance fees and a live auction amongst high-profile celebrity attendees serve to fuel the change we all want to see in the world. As ambassador for the Global Partnership for Education, Rihanna has also helped to secure USD 2.3 billion to provide education in developing countries.

RiRi’s personal causes are varied as she is generous; other notable donations include USD 5 million to COVID-19 response relief, as well as USD 2.1 million to support victims of domestic abuse during lockdown. She is also a passionate advocate, speaking up for the Black Lives Matter movement and championing inclusivity and representation through her cosmetics and fashion businesses: Fenty Beauty and Savage X Fenty.

Taylor Swift

(Image: Taylor Swift/@taylorswift/Instagram)

Newly minted billionaire and Time’s Person of the Year Taylor Swift is an indomitable storm of success with no signs of stopping, and we absolutely love to see it. Having recently hit a net worth of USD 1.1 billion, the singer is known for her generosity among her staunch followers, for whom she’s famously doled out her hard-earned wealth, paying off college tuition fees, rent, and medical bills alike. She’s also noted for being generous with her time and has famously surprised unsuspecting fans by popping up unannounced to weddings, bridal showers, and even hospital visits. While Swift’s critics have been quick to point out her lack of ‘notable’ charitable contributions, the impact of her contributions have been personal and genuine, reflecting the deep bond she shares with her fans.

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That’s not to say the global superstar hasn’t donated a hefty chunk of her wealth. Having raked in an estimated USD 1 billion for her highly successful Eras Tour, Swift is no stranger to managing her wealth. While unconventional, her methods for giving very often hit home, and extend beyond simply giving money. In 2012, Swift wrote and performed Ronan at the nationally televised Stand Up 2 Cancer event, honouring a little boy’s battle with fatal neuroblastoma and pledging all proceeds to cancer charities. To this day, Swift maintains a relationship with Ronan’s mother Maya, and the Ronan Foundation has since raised USD 1 million in funding for clinical trials, in the hopes of finding more effective treatments. A lover of cats (both big and small), Swift also gave the proceeds from her Wildest Dreams music video to the African Parks Foundation of America (APFA), with a focus on eradicating poaching, conserving nature, engaging the community, and developing sustainable tourism. Other notable donations include USD 1 million to the flood victims of Louisiana in 2016, and USD 1 million to Nashville tornado relief efforts in 2020.

Priscilla Chan

(Image: Priscilla Chan/@priscillachan/Instagram)

Alongside her husband Mark Zuckerberg of Meta Platforms, doctor, former pediatrician, Harvard alumni, and top female philanthropist Priscilla Chan has long pledged money and support for uplifting medical advancements. With an estimated net worth of USD 50 billion, Chan prefers to keep a low profile; however, the couple’s steps towards charity are well documented through their philanthropic trio of organisations. Formed in 2015, the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative is the couple’s philanthropic limited liability company, through which grants towards improvements in education, advancement of science, and social justice and immigration are made. Over their lifetimes, the couple have pledged to donate 99 percent of their Facebook stocks, which, as of December 2020, are valued at close to USD 100 billion. Since its inception, the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative has committed over USD 4.9 billion in grants.

Alongside the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, the couple also formed its charitable arm, the Chan-Zuckerberg Foundation, as well as its political arm, the Chan-Zuckerberg Advocacy. Since 2018, the Chan-Zuckerberg Foundation has given 68 grants that range from USD 50,000 to USD 60 million, the latter of which was pledged to the Gates Philanthropy Partners between 2018 to 2022 for the development of treatments for heart disease and stroke in low- and middle-income nations. Displaying true commitment to the improvement of education for low-income Americans, the foundation awarded USD 45 million to NewSchools Venture Fund. Today, the couple continues to fund research on Artificial Intelligence, harnessing breakthroughs to bolster scientific and medical advancements.

Beyonce Knowles-Carter

Despite not having formally made her first billion, Queen Bey is well on the way. Following the widespread success of her Renaissance World Tour, which grossed USD 579 million worldwide, financial experts believe she is on a smooth track to billionaire status. To date, she boasts a hefty USD 800 million net worth, and she puts it all to good use in her work as a top female philanthropist intent on uplifting communities. In 2013, she founded Chime for Change with actress Salma Hayek, and together, they raised funds and awareness for improving education, health, and justice for young girls and women. Alongside her husband Jay-Z, Beyonce is a passionate advocate for equality; in 2016, the couple donated USD 1.5 million to the Black Lives Matter movement. She also established the Black-Owned Small Business Impact Fund in 2020, which awards grants of USD 10,000 to black-owned small businesses in need. It was to this fund that the singer donated the proceeds from her single, Black Parade. As of December 2020, she has helped the fund to raise over USD 7.15 million for Black-owned small businesses – no small feat indeed.

In 2013, Beyonce founded the BeyGOOD Foundation, with the sole purpose of aiding people with economic disparities. The goal is to ‘support non-profit organisations that serve marginalised and under-resourced communities’, providing scholarships, internships, and fellowship advocacy so as to improve job placements. The foundation also supports entrepreneurialism, which it believes to be a key driver for sustainable equity. Through her foundation, Beyonce has provided scholarships for historically Black universities, used her voice to advocate for clean water in Flint, Michigan, and provided hurricane relief for Florida in 2022. Most notably during the Covid-19 pandemic, the foundation donated USD 6 million to community-based organisations, providing access to medical resources and mental health services for under-resourced communities in Houston, New York, Detroit, and New Orleans.

(Main and featured image: John Shearer/Getty Images)

Source: Prestige Online

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