NEW DELHI: With donations worth $102.4 billion, Indian industry's doyen and Tata Group founder Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata has emerged as the world's biggest philanthropist of the last century, much ahead of the American and European philanthropists who may have been considered the greatest givers all these years.
Tata, the founder of what has now become a group spanning interests from salt to software, is much ahead of Bill Gates and his now-estranged wife Melinda, who have donated $74.6 billion, Warren Buffet ($37.4 billion), George Soros ($34.8 billion) and John D Rockefeller ($26.8 billion), among others, according to the list of 50 global philanthropists compiled by Hurun Research and EdelGive Foundation.
The ranking is based on Total Philanthropic Value, calculated as the value of the assets adjusted for inflation and the sum of gifts or distributions to date. The data for the report was derived from publicly available sources and in certain cases, directly shared by the foundations.
Wipro Founder-Chairman Azim Premji, who gifted about $22 billion for noble causes and ranked 12 is the only other Indian in the list of 50 global philanthropists. Azim Premji has transferred 67 per cent of Wipro to the Azim Premji Endowment fund. Set up in 2001, the Azim Premji Foundation supports the elementary education system in rural government schools in India.
Tata started his endowments as early as in 1892 and donated mainly for healthcare and education needs from Tata Sons' income. Jamsetji Tata died in 1904. The group's philanthropic activities are now overseen by its Chairman Emeritus Ratan N Tata. The total philanthropic value of Tata Group is made up of two-third of Tata Sons, estimated at $100 billion, solely based on the value of listed entities.
"Many of the philanthropists made the donation in the second generation rather than the first, such as the story of the Ford Foundation, which was set up by the son of Henry Ford," Rupert Hoogewerf, Chairman and Chief Researcher of Hurun Report, said.
Today's billionaires, Hoogewerf says, are not keeping up with philanthropy, making money much faster than they are giving it away. A few names like Alfred Nobel are not even in the list of top-50 givers of the last century.
"The speed of wealth creation is nothing short of staggering. Three individuals added more than $50 billion in a single year, led by Elon Musk with $151 billon, on the back of the rise of e-cars, whilst e-commerce billionaires Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Colin Huang of Pinduoduo added $50 billion each. At this rate, expect to see fifty or more break through the $100 billion mark within the next five years," Hoogewerf added.
The world today has probably 7,500 dollar-billionaires, 1,000 more than last year. Hoogewerf added: "We have probably missed at least one if not more, particularly from the Gulf states. We have found 696 billionaires in the USA, for example, suggesting the true number should be at least double that, perhaps as many as 1,500. In China, we have found over 1000, but the actual number is probably closer to 2,500."
According to the latest report, the total donations by these 50 givers stood at $832 billion over the last 100 years, of which $503 billion came from foundation endowments and $329 billion from donations. Education and healthcare were the most popular causes followed by social welfare.
The US topped the list with 39 billionaires, followed by the UK with five, China three, India two and Portugal and Switzerland one each. New York, which is home to 10 of the foundations of the top 50, is the philanthropy capital of the world, followed by London with five.
Most of the world's most generous individuals or their private foundations donated towards Covid-19. The Ford Foundation ($1bn), W.K. Kellogg Foundation ($300mn), Andrew W. Mellon Foundation ($200mn), MacArthur Foundation ($125bn) and Doris Duke Charitable Foundation ($100mn) issued a $1.75bn bond offering to counter the unprecedented public health and economic crisis, according to the report.
Globally, Bill and Melinda Gates' Foundation is the most respected names in modern philanthropy, while Buffet, known as 'The Oracle of Omaha' is the only individual without a significant philanthropic foundation to feature in the top 10. Hans Wilsdorf ($31.5 billion), JK Lilly Sr ($27.5 billion) and Edsel Ford ($26.7 billion) were the others in the list.
"The stories of the world's biggest philanthropists of the last century tell the story of modern philanthropy. The legacies of the world's earliest billionaires such as Carnegie and Rockefeller, through to the Bill Gates and Warren Buffett’s of today, show how wealth created has been redistributed,” Hoogewerf added.
The average donation of the list was $16.5 billion and the threshold to enter the list was $3.6 billion. The list spots entrants from six countries and the youngest in the list is 49-year-old Ma Huateng.
Of the total 50 top philanthropists, 13 are alive today. Mackenzie Scott, former wife of Jeff Bezos, donated $8.5 billion directly to charities, making it the most ever in a single year by a living donor.