The Most Philanthropic Women

Just like most other industries, philanthropy is a space that has solely been reserved for men for a long time. While research by the Institute of Fundraising shows that women are more charitable then men, its still true that men hold more of the global wealth. However, there has been a clear shift. The last few decades have seen vast improvements for women’s rights, including improved access to education and growth of business opportunities which ultimately leads to the growth of wealth.
Whether it’s advancing women’s equality or supporting refugees across the globe, many of these women have made it their personal mission to see the same advancements in developing nations or individuals from underprivileged backgrounds.

Melinda Gates

Melinda Gates is the co-founder of the renowned Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The private foundation is focused on enhancing healthcare and reducing poverty. Melinda Gates is known primarily for being one of the most powerful women in philanthropy – and it’s not hard to see why. While she initially preferred to stay out of the limelight, Melinda was responsible for expanding the foundation to include women’s health. She has donated $560 million to develop accessibility to contraceptive products to women in developing nations. In total, Melinda and her husband have donated more than $36 billion to various charitable causes

Angelina Jolie

While this may be an obvious choice to some, the work that Angelina Jolie has done in the last decade has been truly tremendous. Her philanthropy was born in Cambodia, while shooting the Tomb Raider film series, where Jolie was exposed to mass poverty and extreme conditions. After reaching out to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Jolie travelled to various ‘international trouble spots’ and then returned to Cambodia and met with Afghan refugees in Pakistan. She went on to donate $1 million towards an emergency appeal made by UNHCR which at the time was the largest donation from any individual. Shortly after, Jolie became a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador where she expanded her work across the globe. After her 10-year tenure as Ambassador, she became a Special Envoy to High Commissioner António Guterres – the current Secretary General of the United Nations.

Luma Mufleh

Luma Mufleh is the founder of Fugees Family, a non-profit organisation focused on providing care and support for child survivors of war. The organisation has put a unique and meaningful spin on philanthropy by creating weekly soccer practices, tournaments and games for children aged between 11-18. Fugees Family also has an after-school tutoring programme, a 57-student middle school and several community events. In addition, Mufleh also started Fresh Start for America which essentially provides immigrant and refugee adults work opportunities that also assist with professional development such as language courses, computer skills and cleaning skills. Credit: CNN


Although most people know of the pop singer for her constant dominance on our radio channels, Rihanna’s philanthropy is something that has remained rather low key. In 2006, at the tender age of eighteen, Rihanna created her Believe foundation for the sole purpose of helping terminally ill children. 6 years later, she went on to establish the Clara Lionel Foundation, named after her grandparents, which includes the Clara Braithe Centre for Oncology and Nuclear Medicine at the Queen Elizabeth II in her home country of Barbados. Her annual fundraising event – the Diamond Ball – has raised millions for several charitable causes. In 2017, Rihanna was named “Humanitarian of the Year” by Harvard University and has recently been named as Ambassador-at-Large by the Government of Barbados. Credit: V Magazin


Another familiar name on the list, but nonetheless deserved. TV superstar Oprah Winfrey is known for her philanthropic nature. By 2012, Oprah had already given away about $400 million to educational courses and 400 scholarships to Morehouse College. Her charity, Oprah’s Angel Network, was responsible for supporting several charities and non-profits which successfully raised $80 million. Not to mention, after the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina, $11 million was raised for relief efforts – $10 million of which came from Oprah herself.

Amal Clooney

Amal Clooney, an international law and human rights lawyer, co-founded the Clooney Foundation for Justice alongside her husband, actor George Clooney. The foundation was established in 2016 and has since gone on to create projects aimed at advancing justice in courtrooms and empowering the younger generation. Amal also partnered with Aurora Humanitarian Initiative and began the Amal Clooney Scholarship which was aimed at sending one female student from Lebanon – Amal’s country of birth – to the United World College Dilijan. It doesn’t stop there however, following the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School, the Clooney’s pledged $500,000 to the March for our Lives movement – a student-led demonstration focused on tightening gun policies.

Belinda Stronach

Belinda Stronach is a woman of many traits – businesswoman, former politician and philanthropist. She is the co-founder of Spread the Net, a charitable organisation that aims to reduce malaria in Africa through raising money to buy insecticide-treated bed nets for families. The organisation has had many wins since its foundation, culminating in a partnership with UNICEF Canada to distribute 500,000 bed nets to Liberia and Rwanda, particularly for pregnant women and children. Belinda went on to establish the Belinda Stronach Foundation in 2008 to support socially innovative projects related to the development and health of women, girls and the youth.

Meghan Markle

Before you knew her as the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle was an actress of the popular TV show Suits, but she was also actively supportive of several charitable causes. She was the counsellor for an international charity, One Young World, and spoke at its 2014 summit on issues concerning gender equality and modern-day slavery. She then became a global ambassador for World Vision Canada where she travelled to Rwanda to campaign for clean and safe drinking water. India was her next stop, this time raising awareness on behalf of women which led to her working closely with UN Women as an advocate. Since her very famous wedding to the UKs Prince Harry, she has expressed her determination to continue her philanthropic efforts. In 2018, Markle worked with the Grenfell community – which experienced the shocking burning of one if its high-rise flats in 2017 – in supporting a cookbook series from women in the community with recipes from across the globe. The proceeds went towards allowing the kitchen to remain alive and successful. Credit: CNN

Aisha Mohamed