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Philanthropy’s Most Formidable Females

Melinda Gates
Melinda Gates IMG: JStone / Shutterstock.com

Inside Philanthropy recently released its list of the 15 Most Powerful Women in U.S. Philanthropy, a roster of some of the most formidable female leaders in America. You already know that women are just as innovative and influential in the realm of philanthropy as their male counterparts, right? Even still, it’s always great to be reminded that just because they’re not necessarily making headlines as often, the following women are changing our world for the better.

The list of the 15 most powerful women in U.S. philanthropy is as follows:

  1. Melinda Gates
  2. Susan Buffett
  3. Patricia Harris
  4. Marilyn Simons
  5. Susan Dell
  6. Pam Omidyar
  7. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey
  8. Jennifer Buffett
  9. Carol Larsen
  10. Laurene Powell Jobs
  11. Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen
  12. Laura Arnold
  13. Priscilla Chan
  14. Margaret Cargill
  15. Cathy Catalyst

According to David Callahan, who spearheaded the formation of this list, “Women are a fast-rising force in philanthropy. More women are making their own fortunes than ever before and women are also exercising growing leadership in family philanthropy, shaping how wealth made by spouses or earlier generations is given away,” he says. Additionally, women are often top networkers and innovators of modern philanthropy.

Women who made this list of powerful female philanthropists had to meet the following criteria: “(A) She directly, or jointly, controls a boatload of money, or strongly influence how a huge fortune is used; (B) She’s actively deploying that money for philanthropic ends in a hands-on way; and (C) She’s having an impact with her philanthropy, either directly or through her ideas and the example she sets, or both.” Given such a strong list of inspiring women, I think it’s safe to say that many of them possess all three of these categories, and are not only making the world a better place because of their fiscal generosity, but because of how they inspire others to follow suit.

Learn more about these women and what it means to be a “powerful philanthropist” by visiting www.insidephilanthropy.com.

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Forbes Hosts Annual 400 Summit on Philanthropy

Warren Buffett and Bill Gates
Warren Buffett and Bill Gates play ping pong as they honor their shared hero, philanthropist Chuck Feeney. IMG: via Forbes.

Earlier this month, Forbes hosted its third annual Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy, an occasion that brought together some of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs, activists, and philanthropists. The event, held at the New York Public Library, was formed with the mission of creating innovative solutions for educational issues. At this year’s summit, these issues included discussions such as how to increase access to education for girls in the developing world, as well as in supporting K-12 schools in the United States.

The event was considered incredibly successful, according to leaders at Forbes and prominent attendees. Says Forbes Media President and CEO Mike Perlis, “This was another outstanding Philanthropy Summit. From research on brain development to improving America’s public schools, the discussion around education was thoughtful and energizing. He adds, “We’re very please that we can leverage the power of the Forbes brand to convene some of today’s most influential thought leaders and share their knowledge and ideas with the Forbes audience across all of our platforms,” of how important it is that the annual Summit draws out such influential and innovative global figures.

Forbes Editor Randall Lane agrees that this year’s Summit on Philanthropy was incredibly successful, and perhaps even the company’s best yet. He says, “Last year’s Summit focused on global poverty, and we led a team to Liberia to turn our plans into actionable results. This year’s agenda, from top-to-bottom, was our best yet, and we hope to spur similar results on behalf of the world’s children.”

The 2014 Summit on Philanthropy also honored two individuals who have dedicated their lives to bettering those of others through philanthropic and educational outreach. Teach for America’s Founder and Chair Wendy Kopp received the Forbes 400 Lifetime Achievement Award for Social Entrepreneurship, and Chuck Feeney, Founder of The Atlantic Philanthropies was awarded with the Forbes 400 Lifetime Achievement Award for Philanthropy. Other prominent guests in attendance included formidable women’s rights activist Malala Yousafzai, Warren Buffett, Paul Tudor Jones, Jeff Skoll, Sara Blakely, Laurene Powell Jobs, and many others.

Learn more about the event and its impact by visiting www.forbes.com.

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Out of the Limelight: The Jobs’ Generous Giving

Steve and Laurene Powell Jobs
IMG: via Forbes

The world loved Steve Jobs. The innovative, intelligent college-dropout who founded Apple and Pixar was charismatic and easy to like. He inspired people with his products and vision, and devastated many with his death.

But not everyone had all nice things to say about the Apple CEO. He eventually reached a net worth of $10.2 billion before his death in October 2011, and many criticized the business magnate for not being generous with his fortune. He was worth so much money, yet he hadn’t mentioned any charitable giving to his biographer nor had he gone public about large donation like Bill Gates did. People felt that someone who had such a large fortune ought to be giving more of it away.

But what they didn’t know is that he was giving some of it away. He and his wife, Laurene Powell Jobs, had quietly been giving to charitable causes for over two decades—they just didn’t feel a need to go public about it.

“We’re really careful about amplifying the great work of others in every way that we can, and we don’t like attaching our names to things,” Powell Jobs said in an interview with the New York Times. In other words, they are a private family that doesn’t feel the need to blast their famous name at every good deed.

It’s only recently that Laurene Powell Jobs has decided to step a little more into the limelight. She’s pushing for changes in education, conservation, nutrition, immigration, and even gun control. About a decade ago, Powell Jobs formed a group called Emerson Collective, which is an organization that awards grants and investments in education and other initiatives.

Emerson Collective is an LLC, rather than a certified non-profit, which means it can donate to for-profit, non-profit, and even political causes alike. And unlike a foundation, it doesn’t have to publicly report what it gives. That allows for an incredible amount of freedom and privacy, which is right up the Jobs family’s alley.

Powell-Jobs also helped form an initiative called College Track in 1997, which provides college prep for aspiring college students. Through College Track, she has served as a mentor to young people, helping them achieve their goals.

“It’s not about getting any public recognition for her giving, it’s to help touch and transform individual live,” said one of Powell Jobs’ close friends, philanthropist Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen.