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When you started your small business as an entrepreneur, you had big dreams, hopes and goals (and you still do!). It’s possible that at first, it was very ego-based: to serve yourself, customers and only those close to you. Then, as you made more money, you’d buy more stuff, invest back into the business, possibly selling it, and retire in style, hoarding all the money (maybe not that last one).
And now, as you continue to build wealth for yourself, society and others, it becomes exciting to think about new opportunities to give even more – literally giving money away. In fact, giving money is what rich people do. Poor people try to hide it. Interesting how that works. The rich have figured something else out.
Many other entrepreneurs and business people have gone before you and have set up big donations and programs to help, dating back to the industrial revolution. Remember the Rockefeller’s and the Carnegie’s? They helped define the structure of modern philanthropy.
Clearly, there are variations in philosophy and differences in goals here, but a common thread is wanting to give back. (Of course, there is government giving money waste, but that’s for another time).
America has become known as the land of opportunities, with every person given an even chance to succeed. Many people have made their fortunes here, building successful business empires that bring in endless flows of cash. For this reason, America has more millionaires than any other region of the world. While some choose to filter their money into personal projects and investments, some have become known for their philanthropy, choosing to use their money to promote welfare and kindness.
The first noteworthy name that comes to mind in this department is Oprah, known for years for her generous contributions to charities and non-profit organizations. Additionally, she is frequently involved in rescue and relief missions, devoting time, as well as money, to significant causes. Her most recognizable contributions include her recently opened Leadership Academy, designed to educate youth in Africa. Also of note is Oprah’s Angel Network, established to encourage the population to make a difference, to which she recently contributed over $58 million.
Sharon Stone has also made a name for herself in philanthropy by working with her sister to create Planet Hope. The Planet Hope programs have helped to successfully provide free medical and dental care to families without insurance. They also provide clothes for children, psychological counseling, and makeovers for distressed women who need to be empowered. Their mission is to provide hope to struggling communities and to help build them a better life.
Other instances of millionaires giving away money to philanthropic causes can be seen with Brad Pitt, Bill Cosby, and Richard Gere. Brad Pitt started the Make it Right Foundation, which builds affordable houses for victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Bill Cosby has been funneling money into his foundation for almost 15 years now, working to help those that suffer from dyslexia and language-based learning obstacles. Turns out that humor works to change the world in more ways than one.
Richard Gere, founder of the Gere Foundation, contributes to the Tibetan community to support the survival of their culture and religion.
Technology has provided a lot of millionaires, and billionaire Bill Gates stands at the top. The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation was created to build innovations in health, development and learning globally. The secret millionaire has become a popular TV show, and for a good reason. People like do-good stories, and watching wealthy folks pay back at the same time.
How much are you planning to give back in your lifetime?
Finally, we have to mention Richard Branson – the British entrepreneur is giving all of the profits from his Virgin Group’s train and airline businesses over the next ten years to fight global warming. The estimated $3 billion pledge will be invested in the development of non-coal-based and non-oil-based fuel.
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Jon Rognerud is the #1 online marketing expert for Entrepreneurs. His best-selling SEO book, "The Ultimate Guide to Search Engine Optimization" from Entrepreneur Press/McGraw-Hill is in bookstores now. Act fast, and get a free gift here. Connect with Jon on Google+
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