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National Philanthropy Day: famous philanthropists in the spotlight



November 15 is National Philanthropy Day in the US. Philanthropists come in all shapes and sizes, from all backgrounds and in all industries. Some donate their millions (and sometimes billions) publicly; others prefer to remain anonymous. To mark the event, we look at a handful of the wealthiest, and most successful, whose charitable efforts are widely known.

This article originally appeared in The Guide to Philanthropy & Giving 2013.

Name: Warren Buffett

Nationality: American

Known for: Being the CEO, chairman and majority shareholder of Berkshire Hathaway: a multinational holding company that owns more than 70 firms globally.

Philanthropy sectors: Health, education, humanitarian causes

Philanthropic highlights: Giving away 83% of his $44 billion (£28.8 billion) fortune to charity in 2006 – a significant proportion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This remains the largest philanthropic donation in history. Buffett co-founded the Giving Pledge, a campaign to encourage philanthropic giving by the wealthy, with Bill Gates in 2009

Estimated lifetime giving: Well over £26 billion

What he says about philanthropy: If you’re in the luckiest 1% of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99%.”


Name: Bill and Melinda Gates

Nationality: American

Known for: Co-founding Microsoft

Philanthropy sectors: Global health and development, education

Philanthropic highlights: Establishing in 1994 what would become the largest private philanthropic foundation in the world: the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Its endowment, as of September 2012, was $36.2 billion (£23.7 billion). Gates co-founded the Giving Pledge, a campaign to encourage philanthropic giving by the wealthy, with Warren Buffett in 2009

Estimated lifetime giving: Over £15.7 billion as of June 2009

What Bill Gates says about philanthropy: Is the rich world aware of how four billion of the six billion live? If we were aware, we would want to help out, we’d want to get involved.”


Name: Lord (David) Sainsbury

Nationality: British

Known for: Being chairman of supermarket chain Sainsbury’s (founded by his great-grandfather John James)

Philanthropy sectors: Education, arts, humanitarian, heritage

Philanthropic highlights: Being placed third in the Sunday Times’ Giving List 2013 – an annual rundown of the most generous philanthropists in Britain – after his family office donated more than £217m in the previous 12 months. The Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts oversees 18 grant-making trusts and is one of the biggest family trusts in Britain

Estimated lifetime giving: No concrete data, but certainly in excess of £1 billion. The Giving List 2013 said he had recently given away nearly £300m

What he says about philanthropy: We do not believe that spending any more money on ourselves or our family would add anything to our happiness.”


Name: George Soros

Nationality: Hungarian/American

Known for: Being ‘the man who broke the Bank of England’ when he made $1 billion by betting on the devaluation of the pound sterling during the 1992 Black Wednesday currency crisis

Philanthropy sectors: Open and democratic societies

Philanthropic highlights: Founding the Open Society Foundation in 1993, which invests in areas such as university scholarships and economic relief. Having been born and brought up in Hungary, Soros’ foundation also helps encourage democracy in many former Soviet states

Estimated lifetime giving: Over £4.1 billion

What he says about philanthropy: The main difference between me and other people who have amassed this kind of money is that I am primarily interested in ideas, and I don’t have much personal use for money.”


Name: Richard Branson

Nationality: British

Known for: Being founder and chairman of the Virgin Group, and one of the UK’s most successful businessmen

Philanthropy sectors: Environment, children, social, medical

Philanthropic highlights: Setting up a $25m (£16.3m) competition through his Virgin Unite foundation to find commercially-viable technology that would help dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions – thus helping to tackle global warming. Eleven finalists were selected from 2,600 entrants in 2011. Revealed in February 2013 his intention to give away half his fortune to charity as part of the Giving Pledge

Estimated lifetime giving: The 2012 Giving List estimated that his annual charitable donations totalled over £350m

What he says about philanthropy: Ridiculous yachts and private planes and big limousines won’t make people enjoy life more, and it sends out terrible messages to the people who work for them. It would be so much better if that money was spent in Africa – and it’s about getting a balance.” 


Other notable philanthropists

– John D Rockefeller (1839-1937) – American industrialist whose Rockefeller Foundation is now one of the largest family grant-making foundations in the world

– Sir William Morris (1877-1963) – British motor manufacturer who founded of the Nuffield Foundation to advance education and social welfare

– Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) – Scottish-American industrialist whose large-scale philanthropy looked to improve local libraries, world peace, education and scientific research

– Joseph Rowntree (1836-1925) – British founder of confectionary company Rowntree’s who set up many charitable trusts, including the Joseph Rowntree Foundation which still exists today

– Edward Cadbury (1873-1948) – Son of George, the founder of chocolate manufacturer Cadbury’s, and founder of the Edward Cadbury Charitable Trust

Top 10 wealthiest philanthropic foundations in the world

1. Stichting INGKA Foundation (Netherlands) – £23.5 billion endowment
2. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (US) – £22.6 billion
3. Wellcome Trust (UK) – £14.2 billion
4. Howard Hughes Medical Institute (US) – £10.5 billion
5. Ford Foundation (US) – £7.2 billion
6. J Paul Getty Trust (US) – £6.8 billion
7. Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation (United Arab Emirates) – £6.5 billion
8. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (US) – £5.8 billion
9. Li Ka Shing Foundation (Hong Kong) – £5.4 billion
10. The Church Commissioners for England (UK) – £5.2 billion

Further reading:

Philanthropists urged to take more risks and ‘talk about failure’

Ben Goldsmith on fixing the environmental crisis through philanthropy

Philanthropy is what sustains the charitable sector, not money

The wealthy are not tax dodgers; they’re a positive force in society

The Guide to Philanthropy & Giving 2013


How to Build An Eco-Friendly Home Pool



eco-friendly pool for home owners
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Swimming pools are undoubtedly one of the most luxurious features that any home can have. But environmentally-conscious homeowners who are interested in having a pool installed may feel that the potential issues surrounding wasted water, chemical use and energy utilized in heating the water makes having a home swimming pool difficult to justify.

But there is good news, because modern technologies are helping to make pools far less environmentally harmful than ever before. If you are interested in having a pool built but you want to make sure that it is as eco-friendly as possible, you can follow the advice below. From natural pools to solar panel heating systems, there are many steps that you can take.

Choose a natural pool to go chemical free

For those homeowners interested in an eco-friendly pool, the first thing to consider is a natural pool. Natural swimming pools utilise reed bed technology or moss-filtration to naturally filter out dirt from the water. These can be combined with eco-pumps to allow you to have a pool that is completely free from chemicals.

Not only are traditional pool chemicals potentially harmful to the skin, they also mean that you can contaminate the area around the pool if chemical-filled water leaks or is splashed around. This can be bad for your garden and the environment general.

It will be necessary to work with an expert pool builder to ensure that you have the expertise to get your natural pool installed properly. But the results with definitely be worth the effort and planning that you have to put in.

Avoid concrete if possible

The vast majority of home pools are built using concrete but this is far from ideal in terms of an eco-friendly pool for a large number of reasons. Concrete pools are typically built and then lined to stop keep out any bacteria. This is theoretically fine, except that concrete is porous and the lining can be liable to erode or break which can allow bacteria to enter the pool.

It is much better to use a non-porous material such as fibreglass or carbon ceramic composite for your pool. Typically, these swimming pools are supplied in a one-piece shell rather than having to be built from scratch, ensuring a bacteria-free environment. These non-porous materials make it impossible for the water to become contaminated through bacteria seeping into the pool by osmosis.

The further problem that can arise from having a concrete pool is that once this bacteria begins to get into the pool it can be more difficult for a natural filtration system to be effective. This can lead to you having to resort to using chemicals to get the pool clean.

Add solar panels

It is surprising how many will go to extreme lengths to ensure that their pool is as eco-friendly as possible in terms of building and maintaining it but then fall down on something extremely obvious. No matter what steps you take with the rest of your pool, it won’t really be worth the hassle if you are going to be conventionally heating your pool up, using serious amounts of energy to do so.

Thankfully there are plenty of steps you can take to ensure that your pool is heated to a pleasant temperature while causing minimal damage to the environment. Firstly, gathering energy using solar panels has become a very popular way to reduce consumption of electricity as well as decreasing utility bills. Many businesses offer solar panels specifically for swimming pools.

Additionally, installing an energy efficient heat pump or boiler to work in conjunction with your solar panels can be hugely beneficial.

Cover it!

Finally, it is worth remembering that there are many benefits to investing in a pool cover. When you cover your pool you increase its heat retention which stops you from having to power a pump or boiler to keep it warm. This works in conjunction with the solar panels and eco-friendly heating system that you have already had installed.

Additionally, you cover helps to keep out dirt and other detritus that can enter the pool, bringing in bacteria. Anything that you can do to keep bacteria out will be helpful in terms of keeping it clean.

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4 Ways To Get a Green House in 2018




green house and homes
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Demand for green houses is surging. In 2020, almost 20% of all homes on the market will be green.

If you would like to buy a green home, this is a great time to look into it. Prices are still pretty low and there are a lot more financing options available than there were right after the recession.

If you’re thinking about buying a house, now could be a very good time to make the move! A number of factors in the housing market right now mean that you might be able to afford your dream home. Although in many parts of the country house prices are still rising, if you do your research and plan wisely, there are lots of good schemes to help you get your foot on the property ladder, or trade up to the house you’ve always wanted.

Interest Rates and Stamp Duty

Although the Bank of England raised interest rates by 0.25% recently, they remain very low, which is good news if you’re thinking of taking out a mortgage. However, rates may not stay low and it’s predicted that there’ll be a further rate rise during 2018, so don’t wait too long. Another factor that’s going to help first time buyers in particular is the Chancellor’s decision to abolish stamp duty for first timers purchasing properties for under £300,000.

Different options

For many people looking to buy a green home, raising a deposit of between 5% and 20% may not be a realistic option, in which case there are a growing number of schemes to help. Increasingly popular are shared ownership schemes, through which the buyer pays a percentage of the full value of the property (typically between 25% and 75%) and the local council or a housing association pays the rest, and takes part ownership. This is suitable for buyers who may struggle to meet the up-front costs of buying outright. There will often be a service charge or management fees to pay in addition to the mortgage. The Government’s Help To Buy scheme is a good place to start looking if you’re interested in this option. This scheme is now available to people looking to buy green homes too.

ISA Options

If you’re still saving for a deposit, another scheme is the Help to Buy ISA. You can get a 25% boost to your savings on amounts up to £200 per month with this scheme. It’s only open to first time buyers and you can claim a maximum of £3000.

Other costs

Green home buyers are going to run into a number of other ancillary costs, most of which are common to other homebuyers.

When calculating how much you can afford, it’s vitally important to remember that buying a house comes with a whole host of other costs. Depending on the cost of the property that you’re buying, you may have to pay stamp duty of anywhere between 1% and 5%. There’ll be estate agents fee if you’re also selling a property, although there are a wide range of online estate agents operating such as Purple Bricks or Right Move that have lower fees than traditional high street companies. Conveyancing costs to a solicitor can add another £1000-£3000 and you may need to take out life insurance and hire a moving firm.

There are other initial costs such as, fixing parts of the home that aren’t upto your taste. Getting new furniture to fill up all the new-found space in your new home. If you are moving away from the city, you need to consider the cost of transportation as well, as it can take up quite a lot over time. Take your time, do your homework and shop around and soon you could be getting the keys to your perfect home.

I hope this article was useful for you to learn more about the basics that you need to be aware of before you start the process of buying your first home. If you have any doubts with regards to this, let us know through the comments and we will be glad to help you out. If you have any suggestions regarding how we can improve the article, let us know them through the comments as well for us to improve.

Do you have any other reservations against buying your first home? Do you see your house as an asset or a liability? Do you think it is important for everyone to get themselves a new home? Let us know through the comments.

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