Career Woman

Here’s how to be as philanthropic as the world’s wealthiest women


It seems that as a society we are becoming increasingly more selfless as we continue to donate more of our money away to helpful causes. According to statistics from 2017, online giving increased 12.1% compared to 2016 and the same study discovered that medical research (26%), animal welfare (25%) and children or young people (24%) were the most popular causes to donate money to in 2016.

But, with the top 1% of the world’s richest people having as much wealth as the rest of the world combined, this got us thinking; who are world’s most generous billionaires and how do us normal folk compare to those who have mountains of money?

The study, Philanthropic Billionaires, analyses the net worth, amount donated to charity, and the percentage these donations are of total earnings for the world’s most generous billionaires.

With four of the world’s wealthiest woman taking spots in the top 20, how generous are the world’s female billionaires?

Most philanthropic female billionaires

From Gina Rinehart, Chairman of Hancock Prospecting, to Marian Ilitch, the Co-Founder of Little Caesars Pizza, the lifetime donations for all of the female billionaires analysed in the study is $1,262,359,700 (£1,001,846,528.71).

The female tycoon who gives away the most of her earnings out of all others on the list is Denise Coates, the Chief Executive of bet365. Reported as ‘the best paid woman in the world’, Coates has donated 2.4% of her net worth; a staggering $120,000,000 (£95,171,400). Coates also set up the Denise Coates Foundation and has donated large numbers of her wealth to over 20 UK based charities including Oxfam and CAFOD.

The second largest giver in the study is Gina Rinehart who is part of the mining industry. One of Australia’s richest people, Rinehart’s net worth tips the scales at a hefty $17,600,000,000 (£13,871,176,000) and has donated $222,500,000 (£175,360,037.50) to charity over her career; 1.26% of her earnings.

The heiress who has given away the highest amount of money is Francoise Bettencourt Meyers and her family with charity donations totalling $500,000,000 (£396,247,500). The Meyers family, who created the cosmetics giant L’Oreal, also founded the Bettencourt Schueller Foundation in 1987. With €900 million in budgets, the foundation is one of the best endowed throughout Europe.

Philanthropy across the generations

The average age for all of the most charitable female billionaires on the list is 62.6 years ranging from the youngest in the group, Yang Huiyan of Country Garden Holdings, at 37 years old to Marian Ilitch, of Little Caesars Pizza, at 85 years old. The  study aimed to discover if charity contributions differed between different age groups, so which generations are the most charitable?

Five of the philanthropists in the list fall into the 50-59 age category and includes Susanne Klatten, who owns 19.2% of BMW and was the 38th richest person in the world in March 2018, and Abigail Johnson, the Chairwoman, CEO and President of Fidelity Investments. These five fifty-something billionaires have given away $419,650,000 (£330,740,852.75) between them.

The next most popular age range is the 70-79 year olds. Three billionaires fall into this category: Chan Laiwa of Fuwah International Group, Iris Fontbona of Antofagasta PLC, and Diane Hendricks ABC Supply.

Earned vs inherited

Out of the full list of women who have donated a portion of their earning to charitable causes, 46% have earned their fortunes rather than inheriting them through family. These women, who include Diane Hendricks, Denise Coates and Zhou Qunfei, have donated $228,659,700 (£180,214,712.66) of their hard earned cash between them.

One of the women on the list of the top 20 philanthropic billionaires inherited the billionaire status: Francoise Bettencourt Meyers. This is compared to just one male billionaire in the top 20, David Koch of Koch Industries who has donated 2% of his wealth – a staggering $1,200,000,000 (£945,762,000.00).

Billionaire philanthropists: female vs male

The question on everyone’s lips; how do the female billionaires compare to men?

Earning $5 billion a year, the lowest net worth on the list of women, Denise Coates has given away a higher percent of her fortune (2.4%) than Larry Ellison of Oracle (2.05%), David Koch of Koch Industries (2%), Jeff Bezos of Amazon (1.91%) and Len Blavatnik of Access Industries (1.38%).

Despite being the second lowest earner on the list, with a net worth of $5.2 billion, Marian Ilitch has given away more of her earnings (0.67%) than Steve Balmer of Microsoft (0.32%), Jack Ma of Alibaba Group (0.33%), and Lee Shau Kee of Henderson Land Development (0.45%). This becomes even more surprising when earnings are considered as Balmer earns over 7 times more than Ilitch, whereas Ma and Shau Kee earn 7.5 and 5 times more than her, respectively.

The average person donates more than Jeff Bezos

Want to be as philanthropic as the world’s female billionaires? If the average person on a $28,677 (£22,601.35) annual salary donated 2.4% of their lifetime earnings like Denise Coates has, they would give away $32,347.66 (£25,494.32) by the time they retire.

Key findings from the study also reveal that the average person donates more of their lifetime income than Jeff Bezos does. The American entrepreneur and CEO of Amazon has donated just 1.91% of his whopping $158.4bn net worth to charitable causes such as Day 1 Families Fund and Bezos Expeditions. In comparison, the average person gives away $30,040 (£23,675.58) over their life, that’s 2.23% of their lifetime earnings and 0.32% more than Bezos.

About Katheryn Watson

Katheryn Watson is a Digital PR Manager for Kaizen.

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