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Most effective philanthropists ranked by Barron’s

Most effective philanthropists ranked by Barron’s


Weekly Wall Street newspaper Barron’s highlights the importance of effective philanthropy this week with its list of the world’s 25 ‘most effective philanthropists’.

The article, The 25 Best Givers, which includes three UK donors, and five in total from outside the US, ranks philanthropists according to criteria reflecting effectiveness, as decided in collaboration with consulting firm Global Philanthropy Group.

Global Philanthropy Group and Barron's considered scores of philanthropists, rating them on such criteria as innovation, quality of alliances with other groups, the 'ripple effect' of their giving and the extent to which their successful projects can be replicated.

“We gravitated to philanthropists whose causes address severe problems, like children's health in high-poverty regions of the world, but a broad range of causes, even in the arts, are reflected in the final cut,” the article explains.

Behind top-ranked Pierre and Pam Omidyar, and second placed Jeff Skoll, the most effective Brits are said to be Jamie and Chris Cooper Hohn, co-founders of the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), ranked third. Other UK-based names are Richard Branson, who has pledged profits from his transportation business to fighting global warming who is ranked 10th and Arpad Busson, founder of Absolute Return for Kids (ARK), is ranked 12th.

The other philanthropists from outside the US include Indian telecom entrepreneur Sunil Mittal (16th) and Brazilian businessman Marcos de Moraes (22nd)

Philanthropy blogger Sean Stannard-Stockton, writing on his Tactical Philanthropy blog, commends Barron’s for looking at effectiveness rather than size of giving, but questions the lack of a transparent method of ranking. He says, “Unlike in the 2007 report, when Barron’s linked to full information on the methodology used by Geneva Global (their philanthropy consulting partner that year) and noted the firm’s relationship with any members of the list, this year’s report doesn’t include either.”

He also goes on to question the worth of ranking effective philanthropists, “Here’s the problem. The list perpetuates a myth of precision. It suggests that we can know that which is currently unknowable”.

Barron’s acknowledges the difficulty of ranking philanthropists, saying, “This exercise involves a lot of subjective calls. Facts and figures about philanthropy are much harder to come by than data on corporations. One giver’s definition of success can differ sharply from another giver’s — or from ours.”

But they continue, “Even if you disagree with some of our judgements, you are bound to learn some useful lessons from each of the 25 philanthropists on the list.”

The full list is:

  1. Pierre and Pam Omidyar, Omidyar Network
  2. Jeff Skoll, Skoll Foundation
  3. Chris and Jamie Cooper-Hohn, Children's Investment Fund Foundation
  4. Eli and Edyth Broad, The Broad Foundations
  5. Thomas Siebel, The Meth Project
  6. Donna and Philip Berber, A Glimmer of Hope Foundation
  7. Bill and Melinda Gates, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
  8. Paul Tudo Jones II, The Robin Hood Foundation
  9. Helen and Swanee Hunt, Women Moving Millions
  10. Richard Branson, Virgin Unite
  11. John Wood, Room to Read
  12. Arpad Busson, Absolute Return for Kids
  13. Bill and Hillary Clinton, William J Clinton Foundation
  14. Jane Rosenthal, Craig Hatkoff and Robert De Niro, Tribecca Film Festival
  15. Jimmy Carter, The Carter Centre
  16. Sunil Mittal, Bharti Foundation
  17. Brad Pitt, Make it Right Foundation
  18. John Fisher, The KIPP Foundation
  19. George Soros, Open Society Institute
  20. Howard G. Buffett, Howard G. Buffett Foundation
  21. Earvin “Magic” Johnson, The Magic Johnson Foundation
  22. Marcos de Moraes, Zip Educacao/Instituto Rukha
  23. Jennifer and Peter Buffett, NoVo Foundation
  24. William Barron Hilton, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
  25. David and Cheryl Duffield, Maddie’s Fund

To read the full article visit the Barron’s website.