Richest Americans Not Maxing-Out Giving

Only 10 members of the Forbes 400 reached a maximum philanthropy score of 5 based on a lifetime of giving, donating one-fifth or more of their net worth to charities, according to the latest annual list of the world’s wealthiest individuals. 

The 10 are former hedge fund manager John Arnold, home builder and insurance magnate Eli Broad, Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, cable television leader Amos Hostetter, Jr., oil and game billionaire George Kaiser, Intel Co-founder Gordon Moore,  hedge fund leader Julian Robertson, Jr., oil and gas billionaire Lynn Schusterman, financier George Soros and CNN Founder Ted Turner. Bill Gates of Microsoft received a score of four. 

In its annual list of the 400 richest Americans, Forbes magazine modified its methodology to calculate the top philanthropic score for individuals. This year, the score measures money donated directly to charities and nonprofits. Gifts to donor-advised funds (DAF) were not counted except when individuals shared documentation about grants paid by DAFs.

People on the America’s 400 richest list are worth a record $3.2 trillion, up $240 billion from a year ago, according to Forbes. Topping the list, again, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, worth $179 billion, who received the lowest philanthropy score of one, according to Forbes

The enhanced philanthropy score was “inspired by and produced with support” from Global Citizen. The “Give While You Live initiative” encourages the world’s 2,000-plus billionaires to donate 5 percent of their wealth each year and accelerate private foundation giving beyond the annual 5-percent mandate.

The research is based on publicly available data, including Form 990 tax documents, to confirm gift amounts and beneficiary organizations.

“Global Citizen is proud to partner with Forbes on this historic initiative, which launches at a time when the role of philanthropy has never been more important in tackling the many challenges in the fight against poverty and inequality,” Hugh Evans, co-founder and CEO of Global Citizen, said via a statement. “The new Forbes index will help people understand the actual giving of billionaires, not just how much they pledge. This transparency will hopefully spur those who have been blessed with enormous wealth to use it for good and with greater urgency.”

“With hundreds of billions of dollars in Forbes 400 members’ private charitable foundations, we can verify just a fraction of that sum is actually deployed annually to causes and communities in need,”  Forbes’ Chief Content Officer Randall Lane said. “Since we first established the philanthropy rankings in 2018, our goal has always been to spotlight those who are giving big and giving now and ideally using those funds investing in a better future for everyone.”