Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, has pledged to donate the majority of his estimated $124 billion (£107.4 billion) fortune over his lifetime. The entrepreneur told CNN he planned to give away his fortune to help combat climate change and support people who can unite humanity in the face of deep social and political divisions.
Bezos further said he and his partner are "building the capacity to be able to give away this money."
Bezos is not the first ultra-rich person to make such a promise. In fact, the tech mogul has been chided in the past for not signing The Giving Pledge, a commitment by the world's richest to voluntarily give most of their wealth to charitable causes, either during their lifetimes or in their wills as bequests to be made after death.
Fellow members of the 100 billion club, Berkshire Hathaway owner Warren Buffett and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates were the key minds behind the initiative, both of whom have promised to give away their money.
In sharp contrast to Bezos who is taking a calculated route, his ex-wife philanthropist MacKenzie Scott donated nearly $4 billion to 465 organisations in less than a year.
In the early part of the nineteenth century, the original mega-philanthropist and Gilded Age entrepreneur Andrew Carnegie gave away 90% of his fortune ($350 million, or £268m) to charitable causes in the last 18 years of his life. He built one of the greatest fortunes ever seen ($298.3 billion in 2007 according to Forbes) on the back of a thriving US steel industry.
Carnegie generously supported academic institutions, establishing universities, schools, and almost 3,000 public libraries accessible at no cost, and all over the English-speaking world.
The steel magnate was also responsible for the development of civic institutions, donation to 7,000 church organs, and, perhaps most notably, the establishment of Carnegie Hall.
Along with Andrew Carnegie, oil tycoon John Davison Rockefeller also laid the foundation for modern philanthropy. He was the wealthiest American of all time, and he used his money to help a wide range of good causes, from public health to education. Rockefeller gave away most of his money ($540 million, or £414) before he died in 1937.
Bill Gates, arguably the most successful entrepreneur of the information age, who accumulated an enormous fortune as the co-founder and chairman of Microsoft, held the title of world's richest man as recently as 2017.
Since 1999, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has become one of the world's top philanthropic organisations, focused particularly on global healthcare, poverty, education, and expanding access to information technology.
This June, Warren Buffett, gave away roughly $4 billion worth of his conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway's stock to charitable foundations for his 17th annual summer gift, which brought his total lifetime giving to a record $48 billion.
He is the first person to have ever donated $48 billion, out pacing even the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with whom he set up The Giving Pledge in 2010, by donating $10 billion.
Charles "Chuck" Feeney pioneered the idea of Giving While Living - giving away one's fortunes while living and witnessing the results first hand, instead of establishing a foundation upon death.
Dubbed "the billionaire who is trying to go broke", since 1984, Chuck Feeney has endeavoured to donate as much of his $7.5 billion fortune as he can.
Through his foundation Atlantic Philanthropies, he has given out over $8 billion to non-profits, educational institutions, and other foundations around the world. While most philanthropists hire PR firms to help announce their generosity, Feeney made all his donations anonymously.
His clandestine, globe-trotting philanthropy mission earned him the moniker the "James Bond of philanthropy" from Forbes.
Our next door neighbours have Azim Premji. The Wipro founder and chairman has been by far the most generous among Indian billionaires.
In 2001, he founded the Azim Premji Foundation, a non-profit organisation dedicated to improving the quality of education in rural India. It collaborates with approximately 3.5 lakh schools. A decade later, the Azim Premji University was established.
In 2013, he became the first Indian billionaire to sign The Giving Pledge. He topped the EdelGive Hurun India Philanthropy List for the umpteenth time in 2021, with a donation of INR9,713 crore. He gave INR7,904 crore to philanthropic purposes in 2020.
Whenever we talk about philanthropy in Bangladesh, the name Ranada Prasad Saha comes up inevitably. Saha made his fortune through the coal business, expanding later to other ventures like shipping.
In 1938, he established Kumudini Hospital to ensure that other people, especially women, would not have to go through what Kumudini, his mother, did, because of a lack of medical treatment.
To this day, the hospital cares for the underprivileged by giving them free housing, food, and medical care, while charging a nominal fee for surgical treatments.
Amidst the 1943-1944 famine, he oversaw the operations of 275 gruel houses which provided food for the poor for eight months.
In 1942, he established a girls-only residential school in Mirzapur, the Bharateswari Bidyapith in honour of his grandmother Bharateswari Devi. The facility was renamed Bharateswari Homes in 1945.
Saha also established the Kumudini Welfare Trust in 1947 to hold all of his firms, with the intention that the trust's income will be utilised to fund various charitable endeavours.
During the Bangladesh Liberation War, he was abducted from his home by the Pakistani Army and he never returned.
In post-Liberation War Bangladesh, this legacy has perhaps been carried by Syed Humayun Kabir. He was the first managing director of Pfizer Ltd Bangladesh, which was later turned into Renata Ltd. He was its chairman till his death.
Renata Ltd is among the country's leading pharmaceutical and animal health product companies. It is listed on the Dhaka Stock Exchange with market capitalisation of approximately Tk95 billion ($1.1 billion) as of 31 June, 2019.
In 1993, on their 25th wedding anniversary, he gifted his wife Sajida Humayun Kabir 'Sajida Foundation', a charity established in her name. The organisation owns 51% shares of Renata Ltd.
As of October 2022, Sajida Foundation has an annual budget of $614.97 million and offers a diverse portfolio of microcredit products alongside quality healthcare services and various social development programmes for six million patrons across 32 districts.