8 Impact Gurus Who Are Making a Difference in the Philanthropic World

By: Divya Kilikar

Published On: December 15, 2017

“When wealth is centralized, the people are dispersed. When wealth is distributed, the people are brought together,” said Confucius.

And he was right. They say that if you really want to make a difference, don’t work at a charity, get a job at Wall Street. What drives impact for the causes non-profits work towards, what really helps make that intended impact is the one thing they tend to lack the most – funding. When a wealthy and influential individual with power decides to bring to attention a cause, their large communities and networks instantly respond and spur to action, and this is when a large impact is made, propelled by funding.

Here are 8 impact gurus who have made the world a better place through their pursuits in philanthropy.

1.  Bill and Melinda Gates

The most generous philanthropist in the world, the Microsoft founder has contributed nearly twice as much as any other philanthropist from his personal wealth, supporting an abundance of causes – poverty, hunger, youth, animal welfare, children, healthcare, environment and so on. The figures stood at a whopping US $44 billion as of December, 2014. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is considered the world’s biggest charity foundation ever. In 2017, Gates made his biggest donation since 2000, US $4.6 billion towards combatting the spread of malaria.

2.  Warren Buffett

In the year 2010, Warren Buffett, the CEO and founder of Berkshire Hathaway, along with Bill and Melinda Gates created The Giving Pledge, a platform to bring together the wealthiest of the world to promise over half of their income to making a difference. Today, 171 individuals and families are part of the pledge, including many big names from India like Azim Premji, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw and Nandan Nilekani.

3.  Azim Premji

Named the most philanthropic Indian three years in a row, Azim Premji had contributed a total of Rs 27,514 crore towards education alone, as of 2015. This figure is double the figure from the previous year. The chairman of Wipro is the only Indian among the top ten most charitable philanthropists in the world. In the past years, since its inception, the Azim Premji Foundation has made a visible impact on the quality of education across government schools in India.

4.  Rohini Nilekani

The wife of Nandan Nilekani, the founder of Infosys, Rohini has always indulged in creating an impact in various causes. She is a full-time philanthropist, and the co-founder and director of Ek Step in 2014, an educational nonprofit that provides an open learning platform with quality educational content for children. Earlier in 2004, she co-founded Pratham Books, a non-profit publishing house in multiple languages for children, aiming to put a book in the hands of every single child. The following year, she founded Arghyam, which works towards achieving sustainable water for all. It has successfully granted funds to groundwater and sanitation projects for 22 states in India since 2005. The Nilekanis have also pledged US$ 1.7 billion to The Giving Pledge.

5.  James Harrison

What’s more truly philanthropic when you’re giving not money, but a part of yourself? Also referred to as the man with the golden arm, James is a blood plasma donor who saved the lives of two million babies. After doctors discovered his unusual blood plasma composition that cures Rhesus disease, James donated his blood plasma every week for 60 years, making over 1000 donations.

6. Ratan Tata

The TATA Group has established and financed multiple research institutes, including Tata Centre for Technology and Design at MIT, Massachusetts, The Energy and Resources Institute in New Delhi, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Tata Cancer Hospital and many more. The group also donated US $50 million to Harvard Business School, the largest amount the school has received from an international donor. The funds were used to build an academic building called Tata Hall.

7.  Brad Damphousse and Andrew Ballester

Founders of the first ever charity crowdfunding platform, GoFundMe, Brad and Andrew went on to inspire the inception of many charity crowdfunding platforms across the world. One of the biggest fundraisers on the platform include the Las Vegas Victims’ Fund, which raised US $11 million pooled in by almost 88,000 people. Another is Saving Eliza, which looked to fund research stop terminal diseases in children.

8.  Kiran Mazumdar Shaw

The founder of one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies believes that innovation and commerce are two of the most effective drives for social progress. Kiran is passionate about making an impact on healthcare globally, especially in cancer. She started the Mazumdar-Shaw Cancer Centre, a 1400 bed centre in partnership with Dr Devi Shetty. She also finances research in cancer at the Koch Institute of Integrative Cancer Research in Boston.

Do you know of an influential individual who has made a unique impact in the philanthropic world? Let us know in the comments below!