The United States is one of the most philanthropic nations in the world. Americans give billions of dollars to charity every year, and about half of all U.S. adults donate. The country’s philanthropic activity has been shaped by several factors, including religious traditions, economic trends, political beliefs, and personal values. This article will explore these influences on American giving patterns and profiles a mix of knowns and lesser-known philanthropists of who are avid givers to the causes they believe in.
Significant Influences on American Giving
The vast majority of Americans profess some affiliation with a religion, and many charities are affiliated with specific denominations or faiths. For example, the Salvation Army— which focuses on providing food for low-income people, disaster relief, homelessness prevention, and international services—mostly serves Christians. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee—which runs programs that provide food, housing, and relief for Jews in need worldwide—conducts most of its work with Jews. This is because many religions place great emphasis on community service, which often takes charitable form.
Wealthy Americans have assets to draw upon for philanthropic purposes, and Americans are more likely to give as their incomes grow. This is because the country’s economic system has created large disparities between haves and have-nots. The rich have many reasons for giving back to society, including a sense of responsibility for others, social prestige, and religious beliefs.
There are many historical examples in which Americans have exercised their democratic rights to advance philanthropic causes, including the fight against slavery, women’s suffrage, and civil rights. In recent years, Americans have been motivated to charitable action because of their political beliefs. Some donate time and resources to fight climate change through groups.
Some people give back because they were raised in a household or culture that values philanthropic pursuits, while others do so to fulfill their life goals. For example, the five philanthropists profiled in this article are motivated by different ideals that all incorporate giving back into society.
The following profiles offer a brief glimpse of how these individuals have used their resources to improve the lives of others.
The American business magnate, investor, and philanthropist is considered to be one of the most successful investors in history. Buffet grew up in a middle-class family and secured a job that paid US$ 12 per day after graduating from high school. After three years, he decided to save money for college and took on various jobs including delivering newspapers during the holidays. Buffet is most famous for his acquisition of Berkshire Hathaway, which allowed him to secure connections with other investors throughout the world so that he was able to create various successful business deals.
Bill Gates is an American entrepreneur who co-founded Microsoft with his childhood friend Paul Allen. He went on to become the world’s wealthiest man due to the success of Microsoft, which would go on to be one of the most well-known companies throughout the world. Bill Gates has given away more than $28 billion through various charitable organizations. He is most famous for creating the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with his wife at the time. The foundation focuses on improving healthcare and education opportunities in developing countries.
Bill Gates has also recently been successful in helping fund breakthroughs in medical research so that diseases such as Alzheimer’s can be treated more effectively in the future.
While some of the above mentioned people are world renowned, Shlomo Rechnitz is only known to a small group of people. This American businessman runs a charitable organization that distributes funds to more than 1,100 institutions every year. Rechnitz is known in Los Angeles area for his open house every Saturday night where he listens to the needy and offers ways to help them move forward in life. He is adamant about philanthropy and donates to causes of all types such as supporting families of fallen police officers, fighting cancer, and supporting a multitude of Jewish foundations.
In addition to traditional giving, Rechnitz’s love for music provides another avenue for him to conduct his charitable giving. Rechnitz has thus far composed the music for multiple albums featuring many famous Jewish singers and donates the proceeds to Jewish farmers in Israel.
David Rubenstein is an American financier who has donated to local, national, and international charitable organizations. He grew up fairly wealthy in Baltimore, Maryland and obtained a degree in history at Duke University before beginning his career as a law student and fund manager.
David Rubenstein has donated a great deal of money to educational institutions in his home state, including a gift for constructing a library at Duke University and another gift that enabled an expansion in the undergraduate student body. David Rubenstein is also known for restoring historical buildings in Washington D.C., such as carriages in the Smithsonian’s collection.
John Doerr is an entrepreneur who became a venture capitalist after graduating from Harvard Business School. In his early career, he invested in several software companies that went on to become successful businesses. He is most famous for helping Google achieves success by being an early investor and offering a great deal of funding.
John Doerr helped found the New Schools Venture Fund, which invests in educational opportunities for under-served students throughout the U.S. He is also known for his efforts to promote environmental preservation by giving funds to organizations researching ways to save the planet from global warming.
There are several different reasons why the wealthy choose to provide generous financial donations and their time and expertise. In some cases, it is a true display of love for those who are less fortunate. In other cases, philanthropy can be a way for wealthy individuals to do good while also receiving tax benefits.