8 Philanthropists Who Contribute to Sustainable Causes - Public Goods Blog

8 Philanthropists Who Contribute to Sustainable Causes

Money isn’t everything, but it sure helps people get what they want.

planet earth first greenpeace poster

Corporations are spending billions of dollars lobbying the government so they can prioritize profit and pollute the planet as they please. Fortunately the side of sustainability has its own billionaires, as well as many celebrities.

These philanthropists are already famous, but they still deserve a shoutout for safeguarding our planet. You’ve heard their names, but perhaps you don’t know about their environmental projects.

1. Bill Gates

woman in market carrying produce

Thanks to the fortune Bill Gates earned from creating Microsoft, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has an endowment of more than $50 billion. The organization has provided roughly $46 billion in grants to various humanitarian efforts, many of which are dedicated to creating sustainable environments and living conditions in developing nations.

2. Leonardo DiCaprio

three elephants in savanna

When you imagine the website for someone like Leonardo DiCaprio, you might expect something typical: acting career information, a list of movies and awards — a sort of curated IMDB page. Instead the first screen in the slideshow on his homepage highlights an image from a documentary about climate change. The next slide shows him speaking at a climate change summit in Paris.

In the top right corner there is a link to the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, an organization DiCaprio founded in 1998 with the mission of “protecting the world’s last wild places.” Since 2010 the foundation has awarded more than $80 million in grants to projects related to the following issues: wildlands conservation, oceans conservation, climate change, indigenous rights, transforming California and innovative solutions.

3. Mark Ruffalo


Playing the Hulk isn’t the only way Mark Ruffalo likes to go green. In 2010 Ruffalo founded Water Defense, a nonprofit dedicated to keeping water clean and useable. A staunch opponent of fracking, Ruffalo has also invested in Frack Free Colorado. This work led him to found The Solutions Project, a non profit that has advocated for clean, renewable energy.

4. Michael Bloomberg

greenhouse interior

Bloomberg Philanthropies has an environment program that supports organizations and advocates who work on building sustainable cities, restoring fish populations and investing in clean energy. They have many nonprofit and foundation partners, including the Environmental Defense Fund and Oceana.

5. Ted Turner

field with crops

With a love of the natural world and a vision to protect the environment, Ted Turner established the Turner Foundation in 1990. The organization specializes in land conservation, clean energy and water management.

6. Warren Buffett

wheat stalks

Warren Buffett has donated more than 99% of his wealth to philanthropic organizations, primarily these five:

  1. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (portion of money ultimately funnels into many environmental and sustainable causes)
  2. Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation (supports education in Nebraska)
  3. Sherwood Foundation (builds sustainable communities in Nebraska)
  4. The Howard G. Buffett Foundation (supporting impoverished and marginalized people)
  5. NoVo Foundation (various causes, some related to the environment and sustainability)

The funds may not be allocated specifically for sustainable causes, but the recipients often use a portion of the money to positively impact the environment. When we’re dealing with billions of dollars, even a fraction of that amount can make a huge difference.

7. Tom Steyer

two windmills in field

In 2013 Tom Steyer, a billionaire hedge fund manager, founded NextGen Climate, a nonprofit dedicated to preventing climate change and fighting against environmentally dangerous initiatives such as the Keystone XL pipeline. Today the organizations is called NextGen America, and it has a broader focus. Nonetheless, the environment is still at the top of their list.

8. Oprah Winfrey

trees in field

As if doling out cars like candy wasn’t generous enough, Oprah has donated millions of dollars to charities and nonprofits such as the Mississippi Animal Rescue League, Project Cuddle and WE (formerly known as Free the Children). The beloved media mogul has also established several foundations and initiatives, including the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls.

Should We Give Anyone Else a Shoutout?

Do you know of any other philanthropists who regularly contribute to making the world more sustainable? If so, send us a message. The more people learn about charitable organizations, the greater number of chances they have to offer support.

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