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Philanthropy is an amazing gift to mankind. Throughout history, successful men and women have donated large portions of their fortunes to those less fortunate, improving lives and raising the standard of living for millions of people. In addition to being a gift, philanthropy is also a reflection of the donor’s passions and interests. While some philanthropists might donate large amounts of money to the arts to found museums and theaters, others might give to scientific and medical pursuits. The following individuals represent some of the greatest philanthropists of the modern era and exemplify how kindness and generosity can change the world.

Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, is one of the five wealthiest billionaires in the world. Famous for his frugality, Buffett is also noted for being one of the original founders of the Giving Pledge. Buffett conceived the Giving Pledge with fellow billionaire Bill Gates in response to the financial crisis of 2008. In the agreement, billionaires promise to give away at least half of their fortunes to philanthropic pursuits. In total, Buffett has given away about $25 billion, most of which went to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Bill Gates

Buffett’s partner in founding the Giving Pledge is another prominent philanthropist of the modern era. Bill Gates is best known as the founder of the tech company Microsoft, where he revolutionized computer technology throughout the world. Featured on numerous lists of the richest people in the world, Gates founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 1999 to create an outlet for his philanthropic endeavors. Through his charitable organization, Gates has donated money to help projects as diverse as vaccination efforts in third world countries, educational pursuits, and making computer technology accessible to the less fortunate.

Michael Bloomberg

Best known as the mayor of New York City from 2002 to 2013, Michael Bloomberg made his fortune as head of the media giant Bloomberg L.P. Sporting news channels and radio stations that broadcast throughout the world, Bloomberg started his company with the intention of giving quality business news and advice to investors. Buoyed by the success of his company, Bloomberg later founded Bloomberg Philanthropies, which supports numerous causes, including the arts, scientific and medical pursuits, and assisting local governments. Also a signatory of the Giving Pledge, Bloomberg has donated an estimated $2.4 billion to charity.