10 Sep

Written by Kathryn Vercillo on September 10, 2009

There are over nine million millionaires in the world today with about three million in each the United States and Europe. What are all of these people doing with their money? Some of them may be selfishly living it up with a lavish lifestyle but a lot of them are also sharing the wealth. Every day there are millionaires who give away money. These aren’t just celebrities who have billions in the bank and who feel social pressure to give their money away. Some of these people are hard-working entrepreneurs who give back just because they think it’s the right thing to do. Others hang on to their cash until the end but decide to will it to charities or strangers upon their deaths. And some of them might even be willing to give theirs to you!

Why Millionaires Might Give Away Their Money

Why is it that millionaires are giving their money away? Some of the reasons may include:

• A desire to help others. Many millionaires do just give out of the kindness of their hearts. They figure that they have enough to spare so they should help others. These people may give to charities, organizations or individuals.

• Tax benefits. Let’s face it; a lot of people give money to charity because it’s a tax break to do so and that group of people includes millionaires.

• Social or political pressure. In some circles, it may be seen as somewhat of an obligation to give away at least some money to needier people.

• Personal tragedy. In other cases the millionaire has experienced a tragedy, such as an illness, and wants to contribute money to a specific cause related to that tragedy.

• Guilt. Millionaires who didn’t earn their money but instead inherited it may choose to give out of a feeling of guilt because they so easily got what others don’t have.

• Inspired by others who have given their money away. There’s a popular television show called Secret Millionaire which launched in the UK and then spread to the US. In this show, millionaires go undercover and give away money to people they believe are deserving of it. Shows like this have inspired other wealthy people to give their money away as well.

20 Examples of Millionaires Who Have Given Away Money

1. Ben Way. This man is famous for giving away his money because he was the first millionaire featured on the aforementioned UK show Secret Millionaire. He was a teenage millionaire entrepreneur and one of the first true dot-com success stories. He went on the show in 2006 and gave away £40,000 (which was split between another young entrepreneur, a member of his community and a youth organization). He has also been involved in a number of other charity pursuits.

2. Randy Pond.  This man was another dot-com era success story who worked as the Vice President of Cisco Systems and gathered millions of dollars in stock options. He decided that philanthropy was important to him and helped to set up the Pond Family Foundation which has given away tens of thousands of dollars to charitable projects.

3. Charles Crystle. Here’s yet another example of a tech millionaire who donated millions to charity. This man operated a business called ChiliSoft which was acquired by Cobalt Networks in 2000. As a result of the acquisition, Crystle gained about $15 million. However, he committed approximately $11 million of that money to fund Central American non-profit organizations that teach high-tech business skills to people in developing countries.

4. Ken Nickerson. This man made millions of dollars in hedge funds and then went on to the world of philanthropy, using a lot of his own money to fund charitable organizations. Among other things, his family foundation provided a $15 million grant last year for the startup of Boston Rising which is an organization that fights poverty in Boston.

5. Bruce Bastian. You would think that a millionaire giving away money was always a good thing but sometimes it’s highly controversial. That was the case in 2008 when Utah millionaire Bruce Bastian chose to give some of his millions away to the gay marriage movement in California. At the time, Californians were fighting to protect the gay right to marriage. Many Utah residents are opposed to gay marriage and were donating money in opposition of gay marriage. Bastian’s decision to donate $1 million in favor of gay marriage was therefore highly controversial where he lived.

6. John Crean. Regardless of your personal and political beliefs, giving away money for religious reasons can be a good thing. John Crean started giving away 10% of his income way back in 1954 as part of his church’s belief in tithing. As he began to make more and more money in business, he increased his donations to 20% and eventually to 50%. In his final year before retirement he made $176.8 million and gave half of that away. Not all of this money went to his church; much of it also went to various other charitable organizations as well as to establishing the Crean Foundation which is a charitable organization of his own.

7. Percy Ross. Most millionaires give away only a portion of their money but a few of them give away just about everything. That’s the case with Percy Ross. The man was successful in various businesses including fur, plastic film and media. However, he was most well-known for loving to give his money away. He had a syndicated newspaper column called Thanks A Million through which readers could share their stories in a plea for his money. He gave away over $20 million to both individuals (such as those needing dental or medical care) and organizations (including hospitals and refugee groups). In his eighties, he was left without almost any money at all because he’d given his millions away!

8. Eli Saleeby. Ross isn’t the only one to give away a large chunk of his money. Eli Saleeby did the same thing although he wasn’t penniless when he died at age 98. He had come to America as an emigrant from Lebanon and worked his way into a self-made millionaire. Throughout his life he made both big and small donations including donations of over $1 million each to colleges and medical centers. He died without a fortune but with a whole community around him who appreciated his gifts.

9. Duncan Bannatyne. This millionaire is a Scottish entrepreneur and author who is aid to be worth over £3 million. He already donates about one third of that amount to a combination of his own charitable organization and a Romanian organization that assists HIV+ orphans. However he’s gone one step further and says that he’s going to give away his entire fortune before he dies.

10. Alberto Vilar. Here’s a warning story about how you should probably earn your millions legitimately if you want to give them away. Vilar was an investment advisor who donated millions of dollars to support the opera and other vocal music performance. However, he was arrested and convicted last year for securities fraud, money fraud, wire fraud and various other activities. Many of the opera groups that he gave to have tried to distance themselves from association with him as a result of this scandal.

11. Clive Cowdery. This English businessman made his millions in the insurance business but he gained attention because of his donations within the industry. He sold a company in 2007 at a worth of £245 million and immediately donated £20 million of that to Resolution Foundation which helps low-income people to earn more money.

12. Peter Cruddas. This man is an example of someone who inherited money but didn’t waste it. He has been highly successful in the internet securities business and has created a charitable organization under his name. He also has donated over £100m of his own personal money to youth organizations in an effort to “restructure the distribution of wealth”.

13. Christopher Hohn. This man and his wife are well-known as leading British philanthropists. They have created their own large charitable organization called The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation which aids children in developing nations. Hohn is a hedge fund manager who has donated personal money to this foundation. He and his wife ranked #2 on a list of British philanthropists last year which says that they’ve given away £236.8 million.

14. David and Heather Stevens. Another British couple that made the same list as the Hohns, the Stevens are founding managers of an insurance company called Admiral. They’re worth about £100 million and that’s the same amount that they gave away in charity shares last year. Talk about giving back 100%!

15. John White. Here’s an interesting case of a man whose friends and neighbors didn’t even know he was a millionaire until after he died. He’d made millions in business but lived a modest life (in a retirement home nonetheless!) until he died in his late 90’s. When his will was read it turned out that he gave away £2 million to various charities and organizations and left only £40,000 for his family members. This is a bit different from giving away your millions while you’re still alive but it’s definitely an interesting case of a millionaire giving away his money.

16. Larry Stewart. This man didn’t go quite as long as John White without revealing that he was a millionaire but he did have an interesting money-related secret. For 26 years, he went around anonymously every December as a “Secret Santa” and handed money to people on the streets. He gave away over one million dollars in the course of his short lifetime which ended at age 58 from cancer. He had only revealed within that last year that he was indeed the Secret Santa.

17. Cashtomato.com. Sometimes the desire to give away money is intended to help a millionaire eventually gain more money in return. That was probably the case with Cashtomato.com’s financial giveaway which happened in 2008. The company had an anonymous millionaire founder who launched a campaign to give away money in order to gain attention for the startup video site. He gave away money through website sign-ups, to random passersby in major cities and at planned events in public settings. Unfortunately, it didn’t all go smoothly. There was a riot at Union Square in New York with too many people trying to grab at the cash and the site is no longer active. Perhaps giving away money isn’t something that should be done impulsively even if you’re a millionaire!

18. Russell Brunson. Here’s another example of a millionaire using a giveaway for his own financial gain. Brunson is an Internet millionaire who makes his money sharing “dot com secrets”. Some people love his work and others say it’s a scam but whatever the case he’s managed to make a lot of money at his job. And he recently announced that he’d be giving away the secrets of his work for free. Of course that alone doesn’t qualify him as a millionaire who gives away his money. But apparently the secrets come pre-loaded onto a free mp3 player so he is investing at least some money in giving away these gadgets. What do you think? Does this qualify as a millionaire who gives away money or does his self-serving purpose defeat the greater good here?

19. Andrew Paul. Andrew Paul is being a lot more blunt about his self-serving efforts than Russell Brunson but the winner of this millionaire’s giveaway efforts does stand to gain a lot. Paul is a millionaire banker who wants to sell his Kent countryside home which is valued at £1.1million. Knowing that the market is bad right now, Paul decided to do something drastic. He’s allowing people to enter a contest with tickets costing just £20 each. The winner not only gets the house but also gets his Aston Martin and his motorboat. Technically Paul could either win or lose on this giveaway. If he were to sell the maximum number of tickets then he’d make £4 million which would actually be a profit. Sales haven’t been good and so the initial competition end date has been extended (through November of this year). At that point, he’s probably going to have to make good on his offer which could mean taking a loss. Paul isn’t necessarily high-ranking on the do-gooder list as a millionaire who gives his money away but he’s doing something creative that could win someone a million dollar lifestyle for barely any cost at all so perhaps he should get a bit of credit for that.

20. Lydia Nash. To be fair, this young woman wasn’t a true millionaire but she deserves a mention anyway because if she had a million dollars then she’d give it away. She went on the show Who Wants to be a Millionaire where she won £32,000. She chose to give away the entire amount to a home in Thailand for disabled children. She kept her job as a part-time waitress, continued her studies and generally didn’t have her 19-year-old life changed in any way as a result of winning that money.

Famous Millionaires Who Give Away Money

The people listed above are not people who are necessarily famous. They’re just millionaires who did well for themselves in one way or another and chose to give back. But there are a lot of celebrities, members of royalty and truly famous millionaires who also give to individuals and charity. Some of the most famous people who do so include Bill Gates, Ted Turner and Warren Buffet in the U.S. and Lord David Sainsbury, Sir Tom Hunter, Dame Steve Shirley and Anita Roddick in the UK.

Can You Get A Millionaire to Give Money to You?

It’s great that these millionaires are giving away so much money. But what does it mean for you? Many people want to know how to get millionaires to send some of that money their way. There is a lot of advice out there on this issue but there are no tried-and-true methods of getting money from a millionaire. Here are some of the tips that might make it more likely:

• Go through an organization. As you can see, many of the philanthropists who donate large sums of money are giving that money to an organization instead of to individuals. As a result, it makes sense for you to apply for funding through an organization first. There are organizations for everything from funding small businesses to aiding the ill. Search for organizations that relate to your situation and try to get money that way.

• Befriend generous people. There are some people out there (such as Ross Perry listed above) who donate money to individuals just because the person needs the money. If you befriend people who tend to be generous and kind (and who happen to have some money in the bank) then you may be able to get some of that money when you need it.

• Just ask. There are some people who believe that your best option is simply to locate millionaires and request money from them. You would typically do this by searching through local newspapers and business magazines to see who is making money. Do research into what causes they support. Then draft a formal letter arguing your case for why they should give you money. It may or may not work but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

• Be kind to others. The main thing that you should keep in mind is that people give money to others who are kind to them or kind to others. Shows like Secret Millionaire point to the fact that we as a society want to give to people who are already giving to others and doing the best that they can to better the world around them. The more effort that you put in to helping yourself, the more likely it is that someone with money will want to help you out.

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