There are enough stories about greedy rich people and CEOs out there that if you strung them all end to end they’d wrap around the world three times and still have enough left over to fill most of Rhode Island. OK we just made that up. But with facts like John Thain, boss at Merrill Lynch, spending $1 million to decorate his office, once in a while it’s nice to toss some kudos to the super-rich who don’t hoard it all to themselves.
America’s top 50 donors gave $10.4 billion to charity in 2011 alone. Some other well-to-do people who deserve a nod for being nice include:
1. Keanu Reeves
The star of the Matrix films, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Point Break is apparently more than just an on-screen nice guy. He also handed over a big chunk of his lucrative profit sharing points on the Matrix trilogy to the film’s costume design and special effects team. While there’s no telling exactly how much the deal amounted to, some reports place Reeve’s pay cut at around $80 million.
Reeves, reportedly worth $350 million, is nonetheless not above riding the subway and giving up his seat in the process.
People who work building sets and making costumes also reportedly say Reeves is very personable, never acting like he’s above them, playing with their children and taking time to learn their names.
2. Dan Price
In April of 2015, Dan Price, founder of Gravity Payments, announced a plan to pay every one of his 120 employees no less than $70,000 a year.
The plan is scheduled to take place over the next three years, raising the annual pay of every employee in the firm to $50,000 immediately, including even clerks and customer service reps.
To make the change, Price intends to cut his own salary by $1 million per year. The employee pay hike will also eat up about 80% of the firm’s profits. Whether the business will be able to stay competitive under the new plan remains to be seen, but there’s no denying its popularity. Reports of the plan went viral on facebook and twitter, and the plan was covered by every major news outlet in America and many worldwide.
Jose Garcia, an employee at the company with over $50,000 in student debt and only a $34,000 salary, called the move life changing.
3. Bill Gates
Bill Gates, the $80 billion dollar man, founded Microsoft and is well known for his generous philanthropy. Gates had given away $30 billion by October of 2014 and plans to give away the vast majority of his enormous fortune to charity. He and his wife Melinda intend to leave $10 million each to their three children. While $10 million may seem like a lot, it is only one ten-thousandth of the Gates fortune, or .0001.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provides funding grants to foster global development, global health, charity in the U.S. and to improve global policy. The foundation seeks to help the poor, develop agriculture, improve access to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, innovate technology and fight diseases like Polio and AIDS. It has also made large contributions to help in the aftermath of disasters like the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and the 2005 Kashmir earthquake.
Here’s Gate’s charitable address from 2013:
4. Haruka Nishimatsu
Haruka Nishimatsu, former Japan Airlines president, reportedly knocked down his office walls so any employee could approach him at any time. He wore off the rack suits instead of Armani and rode the bus to work.
His salary in some years was as low as $90,000 – less than the salaries of some of his pilots. He says he cut his own salary to share the economic pain of his employees. Nishimatsu believes that businesses that pursue money first fail, and that most CEOs have lost sight of the ethics that must be at the heart of every business.
Here’s a video about Nishimatsu’s famous generosity:
5. Paul G. Allen
Paul G. Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, gave $372 million to charity in 2011. The amount included a $295 million gift for his Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. Allen was the third biggest charitable donor in the U.S. in 2011.
Allen’s net worth is estimated at $17.5 billion, making him the 51st richest person in the world. He has promised to give at least half of his fortune to charity. His giving includes gifts to promote the advancement of brain science, artificial intelligence, cell science and other health and technological pursuits. In 2014, Allen also pledged $100 million in the fight against Ebola in West Africa. That donation made him the largest private donor in the crisis.
Here’s a video from Develop Africa thanking the Paul G. Allen Foundation for its efforts to fight Ebola:
- The Most Generous People in America – Forbes
- Keanu Gives Up Matrix Money – ABC News
- Japan Airline Boss Sets Exec Example – CBS News