Giving something back to good causes has been de rigueur since the heyday of Andrew Carnegie. And today’s entrepreneurs have promoted the proud tradition of philanthropy by regularly donating to a wide range of worthy projects that benefit those less fortunate. 

But with so many good causes to choose from, the paradox of choice might cause charitable paralysis. If you’re struggling to choose which prime project to provide with a cash-injection, here are three of the top destinations for philanthropic funds.

Environment

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Giving to green causes has been popular for some time.

In the US, The Ford Foundation and the Fund for Democratic Communities invested in building environmentally-friendly, sustainable communities that are also democratically accountable. 

British entrepreneur Richard Branson is high on the list of individual donors in this sector. He offsets some of the carbon footprint of his fleet of airliners with the Virgin Green Fund — a charity that invests in renewable and sustainable energy firms in the US and Europe. Through his Virgin Earth Challenge, he’s promised a cool $25 million prize to anyone who can demonstrate a workable design that completely eradicates greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

The Global Greengrants Fund sets its sights on smaller-scale projects that are just as worthwhile. One project taught women in South Sudan to use environmentally-friendly cooking stoves, and simultaneously saved the dwindling forest they relied on for fuel while protecting them from the inherent dangers of collecting wood in remote areas.

Environmental philanthropy is certainly worthwhile — but seeing any short-terms results relies heavily on the scope and ambition of the particular project.

Education

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Investing in all levels of education is a favourite choice for wealthy entrepreneurs.

Studying with a UK university is more viable for students from developing countries through the increased availability of online degree courses and government scholarships like the Chevening Fellowship. But equivalent entry-routes funded by private philanthropists can be hard to find, so there’s a great opportunity for those who’d like to make higher education in their home nations accessible to global students. 

A recent CASE report showed that charity donations to UK higher education institutions topped £1 billion in 2017.  Burgeoning funds belie the fact that a high proportion of funds are funnelled to elite institutions, so wealthy alumni from developing universities are always welcome to support their alma maters. 

Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan are amongst the biggest individual givers to global educational causes — so if you decide to donate to a school or university you’re in good company.

Global Health

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Global health issues are a gargantuan problem — so they’re a prime philanthropic target for entrepreneurial giants like Bill Gates. His Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has a huge global reach and a wide remit — covering everything from Malaria drug and diagnostic development to tackling TB.

In Australia, mining magnate Andrew Forrest recently made a massive $400 million donation to a range of causes including £75 million for coordinating global cancer institutes.

If making the world a healthier place for all inspires you, perhaps finding and funding a favourite medical charity would be fulfilling. Donating to charity is always admirable and these top destinations for your philanthropic funds should seal a legacy that transcends material success.

What’s your favourite charity? Share your observations in the comments section.

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