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Giving Big in 2017 – Who Donated the Most Money to Charity?

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: and, 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.

The Giving Season is Getting Started – A Guide for Non-Profits

The last quarter of the year is known as the ‘Giving Season’ by nonprofit organizations. There are a number of national holidays in the last few months of the year and this may make people feel inclined to give more generously than other months in the year.

A study undertaken by The Center on Philosophy in 2012, surveyed donors in the higher income brackets and their trends and habits surrounding when they donate the most. The study found that 42% of respondents gave significantly more during the holiday season. In similar studies, this time of nonprofit organizations, it was found that more than half of all charitable and nonprofit groups received over 50% of their total annual donations between the months of October and December.

Attracting Donors – Helping a Non-Profit Stand Out From The Crowdcharity on the rise

Heading into October – the race is on to attract donors, to deliver a message that will touch the hearts and minds of individuals to encourage them to donate to charity. The Chronicle of Philanthropy noted that donations to charitable organizations rose by 4% in 2015 and that the trend looks set to continue. In the same article it was noted that it was individuals that make up over 70% of all donations each year.

Shout It Out – Billboards? Radio? Television?

Cultivating support for your cause doesn’t mean that you have to try to attract the
wealthiest of donors or spend the largest amount of money on advertising to get donations. It’s more important to start raising awareness by reaching out within communities as opposed to tailoring your donation ‘pitch’ to a wealthy stranger. With the news that over 70% of all annual donations coming from individuals and not necessarily high-net worth donors, there is a lot to be Billboard - Charity tipssaid for making sure that your message is personal, evocative and reaches people on a community level.
Educate potential donors – Get people to get involved, visit your programs, experience the work that you do.
Face Time Your Donors – Go ahead and ask for donations. Set meetings and ask for appointments and be completely upfront about why you’re there. The biggest donors and donations come from face-to-face interaction.

A Thank You Goes a Long Way

Thank donors for their help, and leave the door open for future donations and ways to get involved in your work.
Asking for money is hard work, it’s thankless and tiring, often filled with daily disappointment. Start by getting people interested and involved on a community level and see how much easier it is to ask for donations during The Giving Season.

Thank you for the donation

Politics vs. Non-Profits – Does An Election Year Dampen the Spirit of Giving?

Election year! With an ever-increasing media frenzy surrounding the US presidential campaigns in 2016, more airtime, column inches and internet pixels being given over to reporting on the election and the candidates – will non-profit organizations be left to fend for themselves?

Do Political Donations Take Away from Charitable Donations?

Thankfully, that’s not the case. There have been a number of studies in recent months to track the value of political donations, which are increasing every day, and it looks like the value of charitable donations is on the up as well. With the presidential election set to cost a whopping $5 billion, many charities and non-profits were asking whether or not there was cause for alarm and whether there would be a significant drop in donations in 2016.

A survey conducted by Dunham and Company shows that many people will still continue to donate to charity in 2016. In fact 79% of donors said they would continue to support charitable causes and organizations this year.

Does Politics Help or Hinder Charity?

If a politician throws their weight behind a charitable cause, does it help by driving more people to donate to the charity, or could it possibly have the opposite effect, by in some way tainting the organization with perceived political maneuvering? It’s an interesting question, and one that comes up time and again when foundations, trusts and non-profit organizations are planning their campaigns and their fundraising efforts. While having a celebrity, or powerful person can have an extremely positive effect on increasing donations and awareness of a specific campaign, it can also have negative consequences if the celebrity or political endorsement falls afoul of an increasingly fickle media and public.

Choose Alliances with Care

Alliances and partnerships have to be chosen with care. Leaning one way or the other, politically at least, may have disastrous consequences for a charity. It is far better to keep campaigning based on the importance of the charity, rather than the importance of the ‘face’ of the charity.

It’s interesting to note that the same aforementioned survey by Dunham and Company shows that the biggest factor in whether donors will repeat and even increase their donations to a charity is how they are treated after they make the donation. Despite media hype and sensationalization on the internet, something as simple as a telephone call to thank your important donors can make all the difference in terms of whether they will donate again next year.

Celebrity Fundraisers Today

The life of a celebrity may seem like a merry-go-round of parties, red carpet events and luxury home and vacations. Many celebrities though, use their fame, influence and star power to raise funds and awareness for charitable organizations and foundations around the world. Some celebrities, like Michael J. Fox lend their support and celebrity weight to campaigns that are incredibly personal to them. The actor became the driving force behind the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research after he was diagnosed with the disease in 1991.

3 Celebs Making a Difference

Angelina Jolie is one of the most recognizable and famous women in the world and she uses her fame and wealth to support a number of foundations and charities. In 2001, she became the goodwill ambassador and Special Envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and in 2003 she formed the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation, headquartered in Cambodia. In 2008 she partnered with Microsoft to form the Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) and as of 2008 is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Angelina Jolie Fund


Oprah Winfrey is a media leader, television and film star and power fundraiser for charity. Winfrey personally donates millions each year to support her foundations and other charitable organizations around the world. To date she has donated over $400 million to educational charities in the US and abroad, including the building of a prestigious school in South Africa, The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls. Oprah’s Angel Network has raised nearly $100 million for different organizations around the world.

Oprah Winfrey


Bono, lead singer of U2 is a vocal champion of human rights and outspoken on the subject of poverty and hunger. He uses his star power to support over 40 charities including Amnesty International, Red Cross, Zero Hunger and the Clinton Global Initiative. He is the founder of ONE campaign in 2004, which brought together 11 humanitarian and aid organizations to fight poverty and hunger in the poorest countries in the world.

Bono Fund


There are thousands of charities around the world, but it is increasingly difficult to get people’s attention without a celebrity voice to make the vision and message of your charity stand out in the crowd. Celebrities use their time, energy and their fame to donate far more than just a dollar amount to help charities raise money.

Count Down to 2016 – People Give More on New Year’s Eve

There is an increase in donations to charities and foundations during November and December each year. From Thanksgiving onwards there is a steady increase of donations to foundations and charities. According to Network for Good, in 2014, up to 31% of ALL donations occurred in December with a whopping 12% on New Year’s Eve itself. What’s the reason behind the last minute giving and how can foundations prepare to leverage the last few days of 2015 to entice new donors to their cause.

A Foundation Guide to Giving in December

With the increase in quite literally, last minute online donations, you need to make sure that your foundation or organization is equipped to manage, process and interact with potential donors.
1. Make sure that your website offers an easy way for donors to make an online payment to your charity: Set up secure payment gateways from a number of different payment sources and don’t forget to include sources like PayPal to facilitate easy payment choices. Security should be your top concern; donors will be encouraged to increase their donation if you ensure their security.
2. Make it easy for them to contact you: Donors want to know that you’re accessible to answer questions, and available to walk them through their donation choices. While many sites have a standard contact form, consider setting up an online chat service over the next couple of weeks. This gives your potential donors the chance to engage with you.
3. Set up a specific year-end giving page on your website: Consider adding a page to your website that is easily reached by a link on your home page. Give an overview of your foundation’s activities in 2015 and a short description about your plans for 2016. This is especially important for repeat donors – having a review of what was accomplished in the previous year will help them make a decision about their donation in 2015.

Tax Deductions for Online Donations

Many people use the last few days of the year to make donations because of the ability to claim a donation as tax deductible in 2015, even if paid by credit card in January of 2016. For people making a last minute donation – make it as easy as possible for them to give.

5 Essential Tips for Social Media Success for Non-Profits

As a non-profit organization, it can be hard to get your message out and even harder to encourage donations, support and increase awareness. In a world of crowdfunding, viral social media, and increasingly more websites competing for the public’s attention, how can a non-profit make sure that they are heard above the din?

Social media should be an important part of every charitable organizations PR and marketing campaign, but how can it be leveraged most effectively to make it count? We’ve come up with 5 essential social media tips for non-profits that will help you be heard.

  1. Choose the Right Social Networks: Define which social networks increase your engagement with your audience and focus your attentions on them specifically. Start with one or two and invest your time, and expertise in them to gain audience engagement and ensure your message is getting through.
  2. Create Groups and Increase Reach: Don’t just post to social media on your own page. Create groups within the social network to increase the chance of people interacting with you. It’s about creating a community, not just a following.
  3. Get a Professional to Help: While you don’t need to invest in a fulltime professional social media manager, it will help tremendously to use a professional to help you get set up and create exciting and interesting pages on your chosen social media accounts.
  4. Be Creative: Get creative, even a little edgy is fine if you’re going to capture more followers, and get them to share your content. The world’s most successful ‘viral’ charity campaigns found a way to excite, and incite people to action.
  5. Give it Time AND Make Time for Social Media: Many people ‘give-up’ on social media before it has had a chance to really get going. You also need to make time each day to devote to your social media activity to really see good results. Between two and six hours per week is a good amount of time when you are getting started, but it’s important to increase that time as your community increases in size.

It’s important to give people everything they need to get involved, make donations and spread the word – social media is one of the best ways to ensure that your non-profit gets the most exposure possible.

How to Choose a Charity? Tips for Individuals

How do donors ‘choose’ a charity? How much research do donors and sponsors do when trying to find a foundation or not-for-profit to bestow their gifts on? With a dazzling array of causes, many backed by celebrities, it can be a tough choice, especially if you want to ensure that your donation reaches those who really need it.

donating for different causesGiving USA released a report in early 2015, which totalled the value of charitable donations in the US at $358.38 billion in 2014; the largest amount of money in 60 years. The report confirmed that many people don’t spend a lot of time researching charities, foundations and not-for-profit organisations. It was considered that only around 35% of donors would spend any significant amount of time researching a foundation or organisation before donating.

How Much Bang for Your Charitable Buck?

A number of organisations have recently come under the spotlight, amid allegations of financial mismanagement and funds not reaching the people or causes that require them most urgently. Donors are also looking closer to home, within their own countries and communities as a way of ensuring that every donation is really going to a worthy recepient.

Charity Navigator, an organisation that previously listed and ranked foundations and charities based upon their financial accountability and transparency, is now rating and ranking those bodies based on their actual results. This may be a nebulous yardstick, considering some of the work involved, but performance measurement is becoming more and more important in a world with ever-increasing demands competing for donors’ attention.

Ultimately, it should be considered that, although it is reported that wealthy donors tend to give to alumni foundations, hospitals and museums — the bulk of the number over overall donations made to charitable organisations, en masse, come from lower profile individuals, and every one of their dollar should be used as wisely as possible.