A Ghanaian diplomat, Kofi Atta Annan served as the 7th Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1997 to 2006. He became a co-recipient of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize for founding the Global AIDS and Health Fund to help and support developing countries care for their people.
Also known as Saint Marianne of Moloka’i, Marianne Cope was a German-born American and member of the Sisters of Saint Francis of Syracuse, New York. Known for her charitable works and virtuous deeds, she spent many years caring for lepers on the island of Molokaʻi in Hawaiʻi. Despite direct contact with the patients over many years, Cope was not afflicted by the disease.
The Venerable Pierre Toussaint was a former slave from the French colony of Saint-Dominique who was brought by his owners to New York City in 1787. After he gained his freedom in 1807, he adopted the surname Toussaint and became one of the most famous philanthropists of his time. His house in Franklin Street became a shelter for orphans, which he supported in getting an education and learning a trade. He also created a credit bureau and employment agency for destitute travelers; and founded a refuge for homeless immigrants.
Tony Blair is a British politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1997 to 2007. While in office he was known for his motivation to do something about global climate change and reduce harmful gas emissions. He also launched several chartable foundations including the Tony Blair Sports Foundation in order to increase childhood participation in sports activities and the Tony Blair Faith Foundation to tackle global poverty and conflict.
St. Elizabeth Romanova
The Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna of Russia, who was canonized as St. Elizabeth Romanova was a German princess who was renowned in Russia for her beauty and charitable works among the poor. When her husband; Sergei, was murdered by the Socialist Revolutionary Party’s Combat Organization with a dynamite bomb in 1905; she did not only forgive her husband’s murderer but also campaigned for his pardon.
The a popular singer has given millions to education, women’s health, the environment, and other civic causes. She is known for raising awareness and donating to numerous charitable organizations by way of the Streisand Foundation.
A Brazilian Catholic Francescan sister who founded the ‘The Charitable Works Foundation of Sister Dulce,’ Dulce Pontes was recently named the most admired woman in the history of Brazil. She was known for her works with the poorest populations in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil and was beatified with papal approval on May 22, 2011. She became a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize after founding one of the largest and most respected philanthropic organizations in Brazil.
Sir Roger Wilbraham
A prominent English lawyer who served as a Solicitor-General for Ireland under Elizabeth I, Roger Wilbraham was also active in charitable works locally. Known for founding numerous almshouses for the poor and distributing financial provisions on a weekly basis he managed to create a very philanthropic reputation for himself.
Popularly known as the ‘Iron Lady,’ Margaret Thatcher was a British politician who became the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990. Her charitable works were often associated with the Margaret Thatcher Foundation that was not surprisingly devoted to promoting democracy, free trade, and education.
Mia Farrow is not only famous as an American actress, a former fashion model, and singer; but also for her humanitarian works. She has always been a high-profile advocate for children’s rights in war torn regions of Africa. Sometimes resorting to Ghandi like tactics she once went on a hunger strike to protest the expulsion of aid groups from the Darfur by the Sudanese government.
Paul G. Allen
Paul G. Allen, 59, is the co-founder of Microsoft, the largest computer software manufacturer today. For the tenth consecutive year, he has been donating $372.6 million to his chosen charities, which include $295 million to the Paul G. Allen Foundation, $70 million to the Allen Institute for Brain Science, and $7.6 million to the Experience Music and the Science Fiction Museum. According to Forbes’ magazine, he is the 3rd biggest donor of 2011 when it comes to giving funds to charitable institutions.
Stella Vine is a British artist who is well known for donating numerous paintings to charity. It just goes to show that you don’t have to be filthy rich in order to give. Whatever talents you have can be just as useful.
Tetsuko Kuroyanagi is a very famous Japanese actress, talk show host, and a best-selling author who founded the Totto Foundation, which was named after the protagonist of her book, the Little Girl at the Window. The foundation professionally trains deaf actors so they can implement her vision for bringing theater to the deaf. In recognition of her charitable work she became the first person from Asia to be appointed a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF.
Sir Richard Branson is an English business magnate who is the founder and chairman of Virgin Group, a conglomerate of over 400 companies. Besides his many accomplishments as a businessman, along with Nelson Mandela he is also known for helping initiate the formation of The Elders, a small, dedicated group of leaders that are working to solve difficult global problems.
Esther Louise Rantzen is not only famous as an English journalist and television presenter for the BBC television show ‘That’s Life!’ but also for her charitable causes. She is founder of the child protection charity ChildLine and is currently in the process of creating a helpline for older people, to be called The Silver Line, designed to combat loneliness.
Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter
As president of the United States, Jimmy Carter was deeply committed to social justice and basic human rights. He and his wife Rosalynn left the White House in search of meaningful ways to contribute in these areas. In addition to promoting peace and human rights through the nonprofit Carter Center in Atlanta, they lead the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project for Habitat for Humanity International one week each year.
Yang Yuanqing CEO of Chinese computer corporation Lenovo lived up to his charitable reputation when he decided to use his $3 million bonus check to award 10,000 employees worldwide with bonuses of their own.
The chief executive of the retailer NEXT, Lord Wolfson is another CEO who decided to part ways with his bonus check when he gave all £2.4 million to his 19,400 employees with each of them receiving about £124 each.
Margaret A. Cargill
An heir to the Cargill corporation fortune, Margaret A. Cargill tops Forbes’ magazine’s list of ‘The Most Generous People in America.’ Cargill Corporation was established by her grandfather in 1865 and has become one of the largest private companies in the nation with diverse interests ranging from agricultural commodities to financial products. When she died in 2006 at the age of 85; she left all of her shares in the Cargill stocks amounting to $6 million dollars to the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation and the Anne Ray Charitable Trust. These foundations support the environment, disaster relief, arts, and other causes.
Aung San Soo Yi
A Burmese opposition politician and chairperson of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in Burma, Aung is probably one of the world’s most prominent political prisoners as she spent nearly the last 20 years of her life under house arrest. Her immense sacrifices for the Burmese people have led her to receive recognition from numerous government around the world.
Danny and Marlo Thomas
As a “starving actor,” Thomas had made a vow: If he found success, he would open a shrine dedicated to St Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of hopeless causes. Thomas never forgot his promise to St. Jude, and after becoming a successful actor in the early 1950s, his wife joined him and began traveling the United States to help raise funds to build his dream – St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a hospital for needy children, where they would be cared for regardless of race, religion or ability to pay – a hospital where no suffering child would be turned away. Today, his daughter Marlo serves as the national outreach director.
Bob Geldof was first exposed to charity when he performed for Amnesty International in 1981. This opened his eyes to charitable works, so he co-founded Band Aid in 1984 to raise funds for famine relief in Ethiopia. Besides organizing Band Aid II in 1989, he also produced Band Aid20 in 2004 and even helped British Prime Minister Tony Blair to organize the Commission for Africa to undertake a year-long study of Africa’s problems.
Bono, the front man for the famous rock band U2, is a wealthy rock star who spends most of his free time having dialogues with world leaders and policy makers on how they can improve the lot of the poorest of the poor in Africa. He is also very active in the Band Aid and Live Aid projects and quite often uses his music spread information on health, hygiene, and other issues. Some of his foundations and charitable companies include the ONE Campaign and a clothing company that trades with poverty-stricken countries.
Nelson Mandela was a prominent advocate of social and human rights and was actively involved in projects such as Make Poverty History and the ONE Campaign. His selfless efforts in South Africa led him to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta
An Albanian born, Indian Roman Catholic nun, Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic religious congregation, which in 2012 consisted of over 4,500 sisters and is active in 133 countries. They run hospices and homes for people with HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis; soup kitchens; children’s and family counseling programmes; orphanages; and schools.