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5. I mentioned this first one in a Know-A-Bit a while back, but she’s definitely worth mentioning again. J.K. Rowling, the author of all of those Harry Potter books that played out on film and intrigued the minds of millions, was once a billionaire because of her writings. But she fell off of Forbes’ Billionaire List –the first female author to make it — because she donated $160 million to causes she holds dear. Her main beneficiaries are aimed toward organisations that help single-parent families to give them more opportunities to find employment, enter into education, and provide child care facilities so single mothers and fathers feel more empowered and in control of their lives. Says Rowling: “You have a moral responsibility when you’ve been given far more than you need, to do wise things with it and give intelligently.”
4. In China, Yu Pengnian was a real estate and hotel tycoon, and dropped from the billionaire’s list when he gave $470 million to the charity of his namesake, The Yu Pengnian Foundation. His latest donation was the 88-year-old’s entire remaining fortune: $1.2 billion, to help with education, poverty and health care. In doing so, he became the first philanthropist to break the billion-dollar barrier in donations. He said he did this to give back, and he has assured himself a legacy like no other. He also said he doesn’t care about not leaving any money for his family.
3. When Jon Huntsman and wife Karen made their first million, they had already given away 25 percent of it. Huntsman is the founder and executive chairman of Huntsman Corp., a chemical product manufacturer, and, to date, he has donated more than $1.2 billion. His net worth today is $940 million. The couple joined with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett’s Giving Pledge to donate at least 50 percent of their wealth by the time of their deaths. Says Huntsman: “I love to give money away, but I don’t know if it makes my children and grandchildren all that happy.”
2. Sulaiman bin Abdul Aziz Al Rajhi cofounded Al Rajhi Bank with his three brothers in 1957. It grew into one of the biggest Islamic banks, making Al Rajhi billions. Now he’s worth about $590 million after giving $7.7 billion to charities. The 96-year-old’s foundation supports education, religious, health and social causes. Says Al Rajhi: “In the past, I never gave money to my children when they were young in return for nothing. When one of them approached me to give them cash, I asked them to do some work in exchange for it.”
1. Chuck Feeney gave to others anonymously for years, until his identity was discovered in 1997. Throughout his life, the 85-year-old has given an estimated $8 billion to projects relating to education, science, healthcare and civil rights, and is known for being one of the most generous people on the planet. Incredibly, Chuck, who now has a net worth of $1.5 million, lives in a rented apartment, doesn’t own a car, and flies economy-class. Says Feeney: “I want the last check I write to bounce.” Just think about that for a minute.