Profiles Resources

Philanthropy’s Most Formidable Females

Melinda Gates
Melinda Gates IMG: JStone /

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

Organizations Profiles

Michael and Susan Dell’s Career of Giving

Michael and Susan Dell
IMG: via Michael and Susan Dell Foundation

You might think that the founder of Dell Inc., one of the world’s leading sellers of PCs, would be interested in philanthropic causes pertaining to technology. However, with Michael Dell, this simply isn’t the case. The self-professed “homegrown geek” turned multi-billionaire, and his wife Susan Dell, are much more interested in giving to causes that impact the well-being of children, paying particular attention to health and education.

Known as one of the wealthiest businessmen in the world, Michael Dell has dedicated much of his successful career to philanthropy, sharing his wealth with worthy causes. In 1999, the husband and wife team created the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, which focuses on education grants, urban education, childhood health, and family economic stability, among many other causes. The foundation seeks to “transform the lives of children living in urban poverty,” and attacks issues of poverty by implementing better health and education.

Michael Dell believes that “One of philanthropy’s most valuable roles lies in identifying innovative entrepreneurs and organizations who specialize in looking at old problems in a new way.” Dell himself has spent a career innovating technology; he’s a business leader, an entrepreneurial pioneer, and a generous philanthropist, all three of equal importance to him. The Dells know that it takes an innovative idea to spark change, and their connections have allowed them to seek guidance from some of the world’s most dedicated experts to help transform the lives of children in need, both in the U.S. and abroad.

Bloomberg Business Week ranks the Dells at number thirteen on their list of the “50 Most Generous Philanthropists.” They have donated an estimated $674 million to causes that provide healthcare services and education to children in recent years. In 2012, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation committed $50 million for medical education to the University of Texas at Austin, Michael’s alma mater. The Dell School of Medicine will begin enrolling students there in 2016, with the help of the Dell’s commitment to supporting higher education and the future of medicine. According to Bloomberg Business, “Since 1999, the Dells have given more than $1.2 billion to improve the lives of children living in urban poverty. After Hurricane Katrina, the Dells responded personally with a $5 million check to help storm victims. With an eye toward tackling issues of poverty globally, the Dells fund micro-finance efforts in urban India.”

Michael and Susan Dell are true models of innovation and philanthropy. To learn more about the Dells, check out our profile.


Michael and Susan Dell Help Fight Poverty

Michael and Susan Dell
IMG: via

There are more than one billion impoverished kids in cities and towns around the world. Without access to decent schools, basic health support and financial stability, these children fall behind their peers.

To help with this issue, in 1998, Michael and Susan Dell created the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation.  Michael Dell founded the computer company Dell in 1984 at the age of 19 with only $1000.  He is still the chairman of the board of directors and chief executive officer.  However, he and his wife, Susan, are also earnestly working on local and global causes.

The couple have four children of their own, which influenced their decision about the direction to take the Foundation.  They focused on kids and families.  Yet, the ones they wanted to help were from far less fortunate backgrounds.  They were children for whom school, diet, exercise and stable family life were daily struggles.

To read Michael and Susan Dell’s entire profile, click here.