Donation Organizations

3 Generous Billionaires You’ve Never Heard Of

Everyone knows who Bill Gates is. He and his wife Melinda started one of the world’s largest nonprofit organizations: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Additionally, most people are familiar with Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook CEO who vowed to put 99 percent of his shares towards good causes. He and his wife Priscilla started the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a limited liability corporation that is focused on expanding education, curing diseases, and promoting equality.

But there are other billionaires that are just as generous (if not more) than those listed above. Here are some of those unsung billionaire heroes who are using their fortunes to make the world a better place:

  1. George Roberts

George Roberts is an American financier who co-founded the private equity firm KKR. Roberts has put his $4.8 billion worth towards helping society’s most marginalized members attain hope and independence. As the founder of the San Francisco-based nonprofit REDF, Roberts provides resources that help homeless people and other disadvantaged groups find jobs.

  1. Manoj Bhargava

Manoj Bhargava is the founder and CEO of 5-Hour Energy. In truly honorable fashion, he promised to give 90% of his $4 billion dollar worth to charity. In 2015, he founded Billions in Change, a limited liability corporation that strives to lift people out of poverty by making clean water, renewable energy, and healthcare more accessible.

  1. Sara Blakely

Sara Blakley is the founder and CEO of women’s intimate apparel company Spanx. Over the years, she has supported numerous causes and organizations that focus on female education and entrepreneurship programs. Her net worth is estimated to be at $1.2 billion.

These stunning examples of generosity prove that the wealthy aren’t always the selfish, greedy people that they are often portrayed to be in the media. Kindness comes in all forms, both rich and poor.

News The Power of Giving

REDF Helps Ex-Cons Re-enter the Workforce

For formerly incarcerated Americans, returning to “normal” life outside of prison can be a tremendously difficult experience. Ex-cons need time to adjust back into their personal lives, not to mention combat the judgment that comes from potential employers when trying to re-enter the workforce.

Reports Trymaine Lee for The Huffington Post, “Of the 7 million Americans (1 in 33) who were incarcerated, on probation or parole in 2010, more than 4 in 10 can be expected to return to prison within three years, according to a 2011 study by the Pew Charitable Trust’s Center on the States.” These upsetting figures have not improved in the last few years either; an alarming number of ex-cons face recidivism when returning home to dim prospects.

With this in mind, it is vital that organizations like the Roberts Enterprise Development Fund (REDF) exist to support those who are having difficulty finding work. Founded in 1997 by George R. Roberts, REDF “proposes an alternative to band-aid solutions that fail to address the intractable problem of persistent joblessness.” Joblessness – especially for those who have recently been released from the prison system, can lead to depression, poverty, low self-esteem, and perhaps most alarming, the risk of returning back to prison. As Roberts himself as has said, “If you don’t have a job, you don’t have hope. If you don’t have hope, what do you really have?”

For ex-convicts who want to move on with their lives, holding onto the mere hope of finding employment as a means to re-entering life outside of prison is sometimes all they have. REDF has a significant number of success stories to be proud of. The organization has reportedly helped an astounding 9,500 people find employment in the state of California, including ex-convict Patrick Carroll, who has turned his life around with the help of REDF.

“Giving a man or woman a job makes all the difference in the world to that person,” says Carroll, who calls REDF his “path to employment.”

Indeed, REDF helped give Carroll the second chance that he deserved after being released from prison, and does so for hundreds of others just like him every year. To learn more about how REDF empower people to find employment and changes lives, be sure to check out our profile of the organization.

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The Power of Social Enterprise

The social enterprise is a shining example of the fusion of social change and business savvy, put to work for a philanthropic purpose. Social enterprises capture the smarts and tactics of the big business world to provide great professional opportunities to those who need them the most. Social enterprises have the potential to deeply impact communities in a positive way, but what do they look like in action?

Social enterprises are businesses whose primary purpose is the common good. They use the methods and disciplines of the business world to empower people that normally wouldn’t succeed—or be given a chance—in the conventional realm of business. Social enterprises provide useful skills and job experience to those that lack a formal education or business experience.

As businessman and philanthropist George R. Roberts puts it in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, “Social enterprises leverage a business approach to address a social mission, making improvements in human and environmental well-being, rather than maximizing profits for external stakeholders.”

Simply put, the three characteristics of a social enterprise include:

  • Directly addressing a demanding social need and serving the common good.
  • Business principles are used to acquire capital to fund their ventures.
  • The primary goal of a social enterprise is to help others and serve the common good—making a profit is not the driving force.

Roberts’s ongoing charitable work illustrates just how powerful and effective philanthropic efforts that utilize social enterprise can be. He founded the Roberts Enterprise Development Fund (REDF) in 1997, and has since helped to empower thousands of individuals by helping them find jobs when they were in need.

Roberts’s REDF is the embodiment of social enterprises at work. REDF is a San Francisco-based and philanthropy-focused organization designed to to create jobs through social enterprises. REDF accomplishes this by providing equity-like grants (and other forms of business assistance) to California nonprofits that embrace the ideals of social enterprise. These nonprofits then intentionally employ the young and the underprivileged that desperately need job experience, but may find it difficult to achieve on their own.

If the concept of social enterprises spreads and becomes a common practice in our society, the entire world will benefit from the increased rate of philanthropic donations and organizations that would surely follow.