Less than 1% of the world's billionaires donate to housing and shelter charities. Here are the top 10 causes the world's richest people give their money to.


Philanthropy is billionaires’ favourite pastime, but the world’s richest people don’t support all causes equally, according to Wealth-X’s 2019 Billionaire Census.

The causes they choose are influenced by a variety of factors. American billionaires traditionally fund new buildings or departments at their alma maters, Wealth-X reported, while some billionaires prefer to donate to causes that will land them in the public eye, like the arts and public affairs.


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Keep reading to learn the top 10 causes billionaires donate to, ranked from least popular to most popular. Numbers do not add up to 100% because billionaires donate to more than one cause.


T10. Housing and shelter

Percentage of billionaire population donating to cause: .01%

Jeff Bezos is one of only 0.1% of billionaires who make donations to provide shelter for those experiencing homelessness, according to Wealth-X. Business Insider previously reported that Bezos’s Day One Fund pledged $US2 billion to organisations fighting family homelessness.

Read more: Jeff Bezos is one of the few top US billionaires who haven’t signed the Giving Pledge. Here’s how much the Amazon CEO has given to charity.


T10. Food, agriculture, and nutrition

Percentage of billionaire population donating to cause: .01%

Hedge fund billionaire David Tepper is among only 0.1% of billionaires worldwide who financially support organisations focused on feeding the hungry, according to Wealth-X. Tepper set up a donation drive for the Community Food Bank of New Jersey in 2010, The Wall Street Journal reported. Tepper personally pledged $US2 million.


T8. Public affairs

Percentage of billionaire population donating to cause: 12.4%

Former hedge-fund manager George Soros is among 12.4% of billionaires worldwide who donate to organisations that focus on public affairs, according to Wealth-X. Soros’ nonprofit, Open Society Foundations, aims to on support democracy through grants for projects in human rights and criminal justice, journalism, and other fields, according to its website.

Business Insider previously reported that Soros is also a major donor to liberal politicians, having spent $US25 million during the 2016 presidential election to support former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.


T8. Religious organisations

Percentage of billionaire population donating to cause: 12.4%

Wealth-X reports that 12.4% of billionaires donate to religious organisations, but perhaps no one more than the controversial founder and CEO of craft superstore chain Hobby Lobby, David Green. He has made sizeable donations of both cash and property to several Christian colleges including Liberty University, Zion Bible College, and Oral Roberts University, according to Forbes. Green also supports multiple foundations that give out Christian literature and has personally funded the distribution of 1.4 billion texts.

Read more: Hobby Lobby, the craft store that has been at the center of numerous controversies, is growing across America. Here’s what it’s like to shop there.


6. Children and youth development

Percentage of billionaire population donating to cause: 31.9%

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is among the 31.9% of billionaires who donate to youth development programs, according to Wealth-X.

Ballmer’s foundation, the Ballmer Group, focuses “efforts to improve economic mobility for children and families in the United States who are disproportionately likely to remain in poverty,” according to the organisation’s website.


5. Environment, conservation, and animals

Percentage of billionaire population donating to cause: 32.6%

Environmental conservation is the fourth-most popular cause among billionaires, receiving donations from 32.6% of the world’s billionaires according to Wealth-X. Tesla CEO Elon Musk anonymously donated $US6 million to The Sierra Club before asking that the organisation’s president publicize his contributions,Bloomberg reported.


4. Healthcare and medical research

Percentage of billionaire population donating to cause: 57.4%

Wealth-X reports that 57.4% of billionaires have made donations in the healthcare sector. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff donated $US100 million to the University of California San Francisco in 2010 to build a children’s hospital that will be named after him, according to NBC.


3. Arts and culture

Shutterstock/Alexander Prokopenko

Percentage of billionaire population donating to cause: 57.6%

The controversial family that built a fortune selling OxyContin, the Sacklers, is known for its large donations to museums across the world. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York named a wing after the family following a $US3.5 million donation in 1974.

The Tate Modern in London, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, and The Met announced in May 2019 that they would stop accepting donations from the family following public scrutiny over OxyContin’s role in the opioid crisis, according to The New York Times.

Read more: Meet the Sacklers, one of the richest families in America, who built their $US14 billion fortune off of controversial prescription drug OxyContin


2. Social services

Percentage of billionaire population donating to cause: 61.7%

Wealth-X found that 61.7% of the world’s billionaires donate to organisations that provide social services, a category that it says includes crime prevention, poverty reduction, and unemployment programs.

America’s richest family, the Waltons, have made the economic development of their home state of Arkansas one of their three philanthropic goals, according to their foundation’s website. Walmart founder Sam Walton’s grandchildren plan to spend $US2.2 billion between 2016 and 2021 through their foundation on social services in Arkansas, in addition to education and the environment.


1. Education

Bill & Melinda Gates FoundationBill and Melinda Gates interacting with women of the Musahar community in their locality of Jamsaut village on 23 March 2011.

Percentage of billionaire population donating to cause: 79.5%

More billionaires donate to education than any other cause, according to Wealth-X, with 79.5% supporting the cause.

Education is at the core of the Gates Foundation’s work in the United States, according to its website.

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