It’s not enough to pledge your wealth after you pass away. Putting up actual cash to help build a better world is what sets these generous donors apart. While the total dollar value of donations may have dipped in 2017, we have a rise in the numbers of philanthropists who are prepared to give big, to give back to worthwhile causes around the globe in 2017. Who will end up as 2017’s biggest donor and philanthropist?

Who Takes the Top Spot?

Philanthropists, entrepreneurs, celebrities – these are the people that have effected significant change in the world in 2017, by ensuring that funds are directed to foundations, organizations, charities and individuals who not only need them the most, but who are working, often at a grass roots level under difficult circumstances around the globe.

Michael Bloomberg – Often in the headlines for his work in politics, Michael is a committed environmental advocate and has used his position and his platform to fight climate change. The former mayor of New York City is worth over $47 billion and through his foundation, ‘Bloomberg Philanthropies’, he donates in excess of $200 million annually to environmental advocacy initiatives, medical research, education and the arts.

Bill Gates – He may be the world’s richest man, but Bill Gates is also one of the world’s biggest philanthropists. In 2017, Gates donated $4,6 billion worth of Microsoft shares to an unspecified recipient. Many believe that the recipient is the ‘Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’ which continues to support programs that work in global healthcare, and in poverty reduction.

Sheryl Sandberg – COO of Facebook and founder of two nonprofit groups: LeanIn.org and OptionB.org, Sheryl recently donated 2590,000 Facebook shares, worth nearly $100 million, to a fund that she utilizes for charitable giving. The ‘Sheryl Sandberg and Dave Goldberg Family Foundation’ works in several diverse areas including women’s rights and overcoming grief and adversity. Sandberg regularly donates funds of over $100 million annually to her foundation and programs that seek to end childhood hunger and work to help college students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

George Soros – With a donation of £13,6 billion to his ‘Open Society Foundations’ Soros definitely tops the list of philanthropists who gave big in 2017. Open Society works in diverse regions of the world, donating funds to programs that “build vibrant and tolerant democracies”. The foundation has given away over $14billion since it was founded in 1979.

Warren Buffet – While Bill Gates may have pipped Warren Buffet with his donation, the financial entrepreneur also donated $3,2billion to the Gates Foundation in 2017. Through the ‘Buffet Foundation’, millions of dollars are donated annually to US and international organizations working in healthcare and education, specifically to provide financial support to low-income students via the Buffet scholarship.

David Sainsbury – Lord Sainsbury not only comes from a family who founded the British supermarket chain that bears his name, but from a family with a rich tradition of philanthropy and charitable giving. Sainsbury founded the ‘Gatsby Charitable Foundation’ in 1967 with a donation of £50 to the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. In 2017, he donated £196 million to the foundation that works in education, the arts and diverse humanitarian efforts around the world. Sainsbury often donates funds to Cambridge University for research and the advancement of science in education.

Jack Ma – The wizard of Alibaba is currently China’s most generous philanthropist with his recent donation of $2,4 billion worth of Alibaba stock to the foundation that he set up with Joe Tsai. The foundation focuses on environmental and health issues and the charitable trust is rumored to be one of the largest in Asia. This is a massive change, as traditionally, Chinese entrepreneurs tend to be on the lower end of the donor lists, but it seems that 2017 may be just the start of big philanthropy in China.

Robert Kuok Hock Nien – Staying in the east, Malaysia’s richest man and Chairman of Hong Kong-based Kerry Group is a philanthropist on a large scale. He founded the nonprofit ‘Kuok Foundation’ in 1970 and is one of the region’s largest donors to programs that focus on education and social welfare including several prestigious scholarships.

Sir Elton John – He remains deeply committed to the issue of AIDS and the ‘Elton John AIDS Foundation’ is a tireless advocate for the treatment, prevention and cure of the virus. Elton uses his celebrity to raise money for various causes and never ceases to be a leading celebrity light in the philanthropic firmament. He may not be one of the biggest donors in 2017, but Elton John is a dedicated and relentless campaigner for this cause.

Gordon Moore – Mathematics genius and the author of Moore’s law, Gordon Moore and his wife Betty are the founders of the ‘Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’ which was started with a donation of $5 billion in 2000. The foundation focuses on education and environmental conservation in California. The couple donated $600 million to Caltech in 2001 and continue to support science-based projects at the university. In 2017, Gordon and his wife donated over $250 million alone to various programs and causes.

2017 was a tough year… everywhere. Devastating natural disasters, wars, an ever-increasing refugee crisis and political instability in many regions. That has not stopped many philanthropists from making sure that money gets into the hands of people who are working to make the world better…for everyone.