Good Deeds from the Mega Rich

Philanthropy is growing in America. After a year like 2020, the theme of giving was only perpetuated by the duress of turbulence from events like the coronavirus- yet giving is something that Americans inherently participate in after tumult, and not just to causes in our home turf. Efforts from the USA are not limited to locality in any capacity- the tendency to help others spans across the globe, as it has for generations.

Just last year, top donors pulled their financial weight. Categories ranging from environmental improvement efforts to educational causes ranked in the top 10 donations (as well as pandemic relief which some of these donations were absorbed into). Gifts to other foundations and donor-advised funds, which also set aside charitable money to give to nonprofits at a later date were two of the other largest categories, along with higher education and social services.

The more notable contributors of donations referenced in the chart above include Jeff Bezos, MacKenzie Scott, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates.

The commonality among these fiscally wealthy people is their penchant for charitable giving- but the curious part of the equation is how these giants are able to give gobs but maintain their status as quite literally mega-rich. Sounds like a lucrative deal, right?

And it is. As history tells us, money does beget money- to clarify, that’s not a phrase to be used to undermine the philanthropic efforts made by these tech giants- however, it is a fact that through smart (and clever) tactics, these guys are able to rake it in with no loss, no matter how much is given.

A perfect example is Bill Gates and the charity paradox. Bill Gates has a wealth of almost an unthinkable amount (in 2018 assets totaled to 1.3 Trillion USD. Their net worth had almost doubled in the span of five years, growing by 91.4%). Generated by their software, internet and electronic equipment, his personal wealth had amassed which left a lot of wiggle room for donating to his private philanthropic foundation (Gates Foundation).

The graph above compares his foundation assets in conjunction to his own personal wealth. There is an obvious correlation between each, and that of course is an increase in both (with the exception of 2009). How is it that as the foundation assets increase, so does personal wealth?

The answers lie within the structure of a foundation. Most of Bill Gates’s donations, personally and through the Gates Foundation are to non-profits, however, he does have quite a few grants directed at several projects like improvements on the medical technology and financial sectors… a very lucrative investment especially in 2020-2021, which definitely paid out. 

Bill is not the only philanthropist that turns a profit while giving-  Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos (tech and business geniuses) also participate in global philanthropy and employ a similar strategy to Gates.

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