Philanthropy is a selfless act, where those with the resources available to help, provide them to those who are desperately in need. Sadly, philanthropy occurs because many do not possess a good quality of life. However, it is heartwarming to see how so many have had their lives improved by the generosity of others. 2019 was a year full of such donations, and in the article below, we look back at some of the year’s biggest philanthropic gifts.
The general public certainly learned more about Sir Elton John in 2019, after the release of the biographic film ‘Rocketman’, but you may also be interested to know he has been one of the most generous philanthropists in the UK over the previous 5 years. John is said to have donated £27.1 million to a variety of charities in 2019, including the Elton John AIDS Foundation, which is aiming to create an AIDS-free future globally. The Foundation was set up in 1992, with John the driving force behind the fight against HIV. According to the Charities Aid Foundation, John is also said to have donated to medical, humanitarian and arts causes.
Tech entrepreneur and businessman Tej Kohli set up the London-based Tej Kohli Foundation in 2005 to improve the lives of those who are forced to live in extreme poverty, to reach out to those in need of help and try and provide them with a brighter future. Kohli has donated millions trying to ensuring the welfare of others, and in 2019 the foundation committed $14 million to the Tej Kohli Cornea Institute in Hyderabad, India – an organisation set up to end ‘poverty blindness.’ It is estimated that 14 million people in India are affected by curable blindness and severe visual impairment, and Kohli’s contribution provides them with cornea transplants, preventative medicine and R&D to prevent future problems.
Jonathon Ruffer, Chairman of Ruffer LLP, is an active philanthropist providing support for a range of causes, including community, arts, social and heritage projects. In 2019, Ruffer provided his support for a variety of causes, most notably putting his support behind Country Durham’s Bishop Auckland as part of a £200 million project over seven years which has helped to reinvigorate the town which had been blighted by years of Government Austerity. In 2012, Ruffer established the Auckland Project which he sees as part of a 25-year project to return the town to former glories. Last year, a key part of the project was completed as Auckland Castle opened following three years of restoration work.
Jeff Bezos, the founder of online giant Amazon and the richest person in the world, made the headlines in November 2019 as he provided $98.5 million to 32 different organisations in the US, all with the aim of helping the homeless. This is similar to a donation he provided in 2018, when Bezos donated $98.5 million to 24 organisations battling homelessness, which strongly suggests there is a specific focus to his donations. However, as the richest person in the world, his efforts were criticised by some with many suggesting he could do more, such as Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn.
Philanthropy occurs to improve a variety of different areas globally, and some societies could not function without it. It is essential that the good work of the people above is continued into 2020 and beyond.