As philanthropist Tony Robbins, once said, “In contributing to the well-being of others…we find more meaning in life”. Many of the world’s affluent seem to share this view, and they funnel their resources towards global charitable causes. Our selection of philanthropy quotes are here to inspire you to consider what you can give.
But if philanthropy is promoting the well-being of others, then anyone can be a philanthropist. Celebrity philanthropists, though, have that something extra to offer. They can use their voices and positions to inspire change, and set an example to their large fan base.
Below are some inspiring quotes from famous philanthropists, and their view of what philanthropy should mean and do to the world.
36 Philanthropy Quotes
“The goal of my shows, my interviews, my business, my philanthropy, all of it, whatever ventures I might pursue, would be to make clear that what unites us is ultimately far more redeeming and compelling than anything that separates me.”– Oprah Winfrey
Media mogul, Oprah Winfrey (amazon) is one of the most powerful women in the world. She is best known for hosting her TV show- The Oprah Winfrey Show- for 25 seasons, as well as starting her TV network- Oprah Winfrey Network- in 2011. With a net worth of about $2.6 billion, Oprah controls one of the biggest personal net worths of the 21st century.
In 2005, Business Week named Oprah the greatest black philanthropist in American history. Some of her philanthropic contributions include the Oprah Winfrey Foundation- which she funds through an endowment, the Oprah Winfrey Operating Foundation, and the Angel Foundation. She also has a will that will donate $1 billion to charity.
In her philanthropy quote, Oprah effectively stated that her mission is to use philanthropy- as with all her other ventures- to unite the world. Yes, there may be differences in races, biases and economic fortunes; but the fundamental human needs that group us all as one are far more compelling.
“There are three lessons in philanthropy – one, involve the family, especially the spouse. She can be a remarkable driver of your initiative. Two, you need to build an institution, and you need to scale it up. Choose a leader for philanthropy whom you trust. Three, philanthropy needs patience, tenacity and time.”– Azim Premji
Azim Premji is an Indian entrepreneur and the chairman of Wipro Limited, a company he guided through decades of diversification to emerge as a world leader in the software industry. Though he is by the 21st century one of the wealthiest individuals in the world, he is more recognized for his ethical approach to business and his acts of charity. Premji established the Azim Premji Foundation in 2001, with the primary aim of improving the quality of elemental education in rural India.
Premji shares his views that we should approach philanthropy holistically. Get your family involved as it can be time and energy-consuming. Select a manager for your organisation if you won’t be personally in-charge. Treat your philanthropic efforts like you would a new relationship or a child; give it time to blossom.
“Effective philanthropy requires a lot of time and creativity – the same kind of focus and skills that building a business requires.”– Bill Gates
Bill Gates (amazon) co-founded Microsoft with his childhood friend Paul Allen. He then led the company as the chief software architect, to the status of the worldwide leader in software, computer services and solutions.
While having always been altruistic, Gates’ major philanthropic endeavours started in 1994. He created the William H. Gates Foundation- named after his father- which focused on global health. This foundation merged in 2000 with the Gates Learning Foundation into what we now know as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Bill and his wife, Melinda, have given about $45.5 billion through his foundation and other family foundations, since 1994. This makes him one of the world’s biggest philanthropic spenders. Gates believes that to be effective in philanthropy, you need much of the same skills required to be successful in business. Just as you plan and innovate constantly in business, philanthropy also requires a lot of planning. Otherwise, it becomes just giving.
“My theme for philanthropy is the same approach I used with technology: to find a need and fill it.”– An Wang
Once considered one of Boston’s most generous philanthropists, An Wang is a Shanghai-born American entrepreneur. He founded -and served as the president of- Wang Laboratories with just $600 in 1951 after he immigrated to the US from China in 1945. Wang Laboratory cemented Wang’s legacy as an entrepreneur and an inventor. Forbes magazine named him the 5th richest man in America as of 1989, and he held 40 patents and 23 honorary degrees.
Wang attributes a large chunk of his success to the opportunity given to him by Havard as a computer developer in 1948. He shows his gratitude by donating to Harvard and other schools and colleges, both in the United State and in his home country of China.
Wang does not believe in giving indiscriminately. As stated in his philanthropy quote, he specifically looks for what people need and then intervenes accordingly.
“Shouldn’t you put the same amount of effort into your giving as you might for your for-profit investments? After all, philanthropy is an investment, and one in which lives – not profits – are at stake.”– Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen
Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen once described herself as a “Pracademic- part practitioner, part academic”. She is the founder and President of the Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen Foundation (LAAF), a platform geared at providing quality learning resources, and the author of the book, Giving 2.0: Transform Your Giving and Our World.
Arrillaga-Andreessen’s philanthropy quote speaks about the need to prioritize philanthropy. While doing business for profit is important, making out time to give to others should be as important. People’s lives, not just perishable money, is at stake in Philanthropy; and this makes it even more time-worthy.
“Philanthropy is the thing that I am really excited about, and having success means I can do more.”– will.i.am
William James, better recognized with the stage-name will.i.am (amazon), is an American singer, songwriter and producer. He first made a name for himself as part of the group Black Eyed Peas, a pop-rap group he co-founded in 1995. Will.i.am is also critically acclaimed as a music producer, working with top stars like Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, Nas and The Game.
Will.i.am dedicates himself to philanthropic work and has created many charity funds over the years. Most notable of these are the ‘i.am.home fund’ and ‘i.am scholarship fund’, foundations which seek to provide resources for struggling families and young people respectively.
Will.i.am also donates to victims of natural disasters. He claims to channel a portion of his salary to numerous charity organisations and trusts. Will.i.am measures his success by how much he can give back to the world.
“I firmly believe that philanthropy is most effective and outcome-oriented when you ensure that your pledge actually gets spent.”– Shiv Nadar
Shiv Nadar is an Indian industrialist and highly philanthropic entrepreneur. Nicknamed as Magus by friends, Nadar is the founder of HCL, an IT hardware company which morphed into an IT enterprise towards the beginning of the 21st century.
One of Nadar’s most notable philanthropic ventures is the Shiv Nadar Foundation, established in 1994 and mostly responsible for singlehandedly transforming the Education landscape of India. The goal of the foundation is to empower individuals, especially in the rural areas of India, by establishing institutes in endangered disciplinary areas related to art and education.
As stated in his philanthropy quote, Nadar does not believe in just throwing money at the problem. True philanthropy entails following up on your donations until you are sure your money is being well spent. Until you see tangible results from your efforts.
“One of the big myths about philanthropy is that it’s all about donating funds for a cause. I like to look at it quite differently. Philanthropy is about ‘giving’ – not just in monetary terms but also in non-monetary aspects, like time, ideas, or being a volunteer. Donating money is just a small part of philanthropy.”– Pankaj Patel
Pankajbhai Patel is the owner of Ahmedabad-based pharmaceutical company Zydus Cadila, the makers of Aten tablet used by a large section of Indians to control their BP. Cadila Healthcare launched in 1995, and in a short span of 15 years became the fifth largest pharmaceutical group in the country. Forbes Magazine recently ranked Pankaj Patel as the 44th richest man in India.
Patel believes philanthropy goes beyond just donating money for a cause. The time you give to listening to -and inspiring- others, the ideas you contribute intending to improve the lives of others, and the various volunteer activities that may not necessarily involve money. Patel believes all these are ways in which we can engage in philanthropy.
“The competition between me and Bill Gates, probably: Who can spend money more effectively that can do better philanthropy.”– Jack Ma
With a 7.8% stake in e-commerce giant Alibaba and a 50% stake in Alipay- an e-payment portal, Jack Ma is the richest man in China. His investments also go beyond Alibaba and Alipay, to include stakes in the Chinese entertainment industry. Ma is also one of the world’s leading philanthropists.
Ma believes that the competition between the richest of the world is more profitable for the world if philanthropy becomes the criteria.
“There’s a lot of complacency in philanthropy. People figure organizations are trying to do good, and that’s enough, even if the results aren’t there. But that’s wasteful and inefficient. It crowds out better programs.”– Dustin Moskovitz
Many have described Facebook co-founder, Dustin Moskovitz, as “skilled at building and monetizing an audience”. He left Facebook in 2008 to start Asana, a now-popular task management hub, where he currently serves as the CEO. Moskovitz’s philanthropic contributions include co-founding Good Ventures with his wife, Cari Tuna, in 2011.
Good Ventures has since donated approximately $100 million to charities like Against Malaria Foundation, Schistosomiasis Control Initiative, and other effective altruist organizations. Many organizations plan less in regards to their philanthropic work. While we may laud the numbers of zeros from afar, Moskovitz advocates a more careful generalisation. We should not judge corporate giving on paper. We should ask for actual results.
“Philanthropy without scale and sustainability is like any other bad business that will simply wither and die on the vine.”– Naveen Jain
Naveen Jain is an entrepreneur, innovator and the founder of several successful companies. This includes BlueDot, Viome, Intelius, TalentWise and Moon Express, which has the US government’s permission to orbit and land on the moon. Driven by the need to improve the lives of people, Jain believes the principles of entrepreneurship should be applied to Philanthropy for maximum results.
According to Jain, building a scale and making it self-sustaining, are essential ingredients for successful philanthropy. You may have to start small as all businesses do. The goal, as illustrated by Jain, is to build a self-funding and self-sustaining enterprise. This goes beyond just giving out money; it requires planning. This is the best model to achieve wide-reaching, long-lasting Philanthropy.
“Anybody doing philanthropy has to find something that appeals to them from their own personal background or from intellectual curiosity.”– Paul Allen
Paul Allen is a researcher, entrepreneur and sports club owner, most remembered as the co-founder of Microsoft with Bill gates. Allen left Microsoft 8 years after he co-founded it, after receiving a Hodgkin’s Disease diagnosis. He then donated more than $2 billion to various research institutes and charities, including about $500 Million to his own Allen Institute for brain science.
Allen feels philanthropy needs a personal touch to it for it to be effective. You have to search for something you are passionate about, or something you are curious about and channel your energy and time to it.
The goal of philanthropy is to touch lives, on a large scale. While many entrepreneurs have approached the concept of giving in different ways, there are some common denominators to note. Philanthropy goes beyond just giving our money. It requires your planning, efforts, and time. All these factors will help you ensure that the funds available are being put to effective use. This is the way to create a difference in the world.
More Philanthropy Sayings and Philanthropy Quotes:
“My philanthropy is no relation to anybody else’s. None. My philanthropy and what we do at the foundation speaks for itself and has no relation to anyone’s.”– Jon Bon Jovi
“Young entrepreneurs, in general, feel they’re too busy running their companies, which I think is a mistake. But once they’re older, you see much more of a propensity to be involved in philanthropy.”– Jeffrey Skoll
“I am very grateful for the opportunities I’ve had and feel I have a duty to repay my good fortune through philanthropic endeavors that expand the reach of human possibility and compassion.”– Hansjorg Wyss
“It’s important to do see the results of your philanthropy while you are alive.”– Husnu Ozyegin
“I have often spoken about the importance of intentionality in philanthropy: that it has to stir the soul. This is true whether you are feeding the homeless, mentoring a child or working on climate change.”– Charles Bronfman
“The new world economic order is not an exercise in philanthropy, but in enlightened self-interest for everyone concerned.”– Carlos Fuentes
“I can honestly say that TOMS is my future. I mean I have no desire to start any other company for as long as I live because this is the perfect blend of business and philanthropy to me.”– Blake Mycoskie
“I’ve been a philanthropist for all my life, and… I’ve had many involvements in humanitarian and environmental issues.”– Julian Lennon
“I’m a technologist by origin and by training, but I’m focused on philanthropy.”– Pierre Omidyar
“Music and philanthropy have a long, benevolent relationship with one another. Record bins are rife with charity singles, and concert history is filled with benefit shows for every imaginable cause. Musicians like to give back.”– Shawn Amos
“I never thought I would be in a position like this, where my words and experiences are now inspiring others to follow suit. It’s challenging at times, but I can only look forward to the future of business and philanthropy.”– Blake Mycoskie
“Successful ventures in business or philanthropy are built around great teams who can help us overcome tremendous challenges – and have the right experiences and relationships to do so.”– Naveen Jain
“I truly believe that philanthropy and commerce can work together.”– Donna Karan
“A philanthropic venture requires all the energy, knowledge and money from its founder that a company requires from the leadership team.”– Romesh Wadhwani
“Philanthropy is not about giving money but about solving problems. While well-meaning, the idea of writing a check and calling it ‘philanthropy’ is extremely short-sighted and unfortunately, extremely pervasive.”– Naveen Jain
“Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.”– Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Life is fleeting, and permanence in this world is something we all strive for. The best way to achieve permanence is through philanthropy.”– Ram Shriram
“The goal of the program, called Giving With Purpose, is to teach college students – and anyone else who cares to register – how to beneficially contribute to charity. That’s not necessarily easy. There are IRS rules for giving that must be learned, and there is wayward, wasteful philanthropy to be avoided.”– Carol Loomis
“Philanthropy should be taking much bigger risks that business. If these are easy problems, business and government can come in and solve them.”– Bill Gates
“You cannot mandate philanthropy. It has to come from within, and when it does, it is deeply satisfying.”– Azim Premji
“Charity is just writing checks and not being engaged. Philanthropy, to me, is being engaged, not only with your resources but getting people and yourself really involved and doing things that haven’t been done before.”– Eli Broad
“Philanthropy is my job.”– will.i.am
“Entrepreneurial Philanthropy is not just a philosophy or a dream. It is a promise that philanthropy is at its best when it is founded on entrepreneurial zest and agility.”– Naveen Jain
“Being innovative in your philanthropy allows you to stride forward in your giving journey; you can marry your mind and heart to turn charity into lasting impact; and you can become more ambitious in your giving.”– Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen