With donations worth $102.4 billion, India’s pioneer industrialist and Tata Group founder Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata is the world’s biggest philanthropist of the last century, much ahead of Bill and Melinda Gates, who came in second.

Wipro Founder-Chairman Azim Premji, who gifted about $22 billion for noble causes and ranked 12, is the only other Indian in the list of 50 global philanthropists compiled by Hurun Research and EdelGive Foundation.

Tata, who started his endowments as early as 1892, donated mainly for healthcare and education needs from Tata Sons’ income. Jamsetji Tata died in 1904. The total philanthropic value of Tata Group is made up of 66 per cent of Tata Sons, estimated at $100 billion, solely based on the value of listed entities.

“Whilst American and European philanthropists may have dominated the thinking of philanthropy over the last century, Jamsetji Tata is the world’s biggest philanthropist,” Rupert Hoogewerf, Chairman and Chief Researcher of Hurun Report, said.

Anas Rahman Junaid, Managing Director and Chief Researcher of Hurun India said: “It is a proud moment to see an Indian top the 2021 EdelGive Hurun Philanthropists of the Century.”

The group’s philanthropic activities are now overseen by its Chairman Emeritus Ratan N Tata.

Azim Premji was the first Indian to sign the Giving Pledge in 2010 and since then transferred 67 per cent of Wipro to the Azim Premji Endowment fund. Set up in 2001, Azim Premji Foundation supports the elementary education system in rural government schools in India.

Total $832 billion donations

The total donations from the world’s most generous individuals in the last century stood at $832 billion, of which $503 billion came in from foundation endowments and $329 billion from donations.

The US topped the list with 39 billionaires, followed by UK with five, China three, India two and Portugal and Switzerland one each. New York, which is home to 10 of the foundations of the top 50, is the philanthropy capital of the world, followed by London with five.

Global philanthropists

Bill and Melinda Gates, the most respected names in modern philanthropy, ranked second with donations worth $74.6 billion, followed by Henry Wellcome ($56.7 billion) and Howard Hughes ($38.6 billion), while Warren Buffett ($37.4 billion) came in fifth position.


Buffet, known as ‘The Oracle of Omaha’, is the only individual without a significant philanthropic foundation to feature in the top 10.

George Soros ($34.8 billion), Hans Wilsdorf ($31.5 billion), JK Lilly Sr ($27.5 billion), John D Rockefeller ($26.8 billion) and Edsel Ford ($26.7 billion) were the others in the list.

“The stories of the world’s biggest philanthropists of the last century tell the story of modern philanthropy. The legacies of the world’s earliest billionaires such as Carnegie and Rockefeller, through to the Bill Gates and Warren Buffett’s of today, show how wealth created has been redistributed,” Hoogewerf added.

The average donation of the list was $16.5 billion and the threshold to enter the list was $3.6 billion. The list spots entrants from six countries and the youngest in the list is 49-year-old Ma Huateng.

Of the total 50 top philanthropists, 13 are alive today, while education and healthcare were the most popular causes followed by social welfare. Mackenzie Scott, former wife of Jeff Bezos, donated $8.5 billion directly to charities, making it the most ever in a single year by a living donor.

The world today has probably 7,500 dollar-billionaires, up 1,000 on last year.