Giving Tuesday: Meet the country's top philanthropists

While giving back is a reward within itself, others have turned it into a life-long mission.

Many of America’s top philanthropists have the extra cash on hand to give – and reap tax benefits for doing so – but the top five biggest givers in the country have gone above and beyond just writing a check.

Warren Buffett was America’s top philanthropist last year, according to Forbes’ list of the top 50 givers, marking the fourth straight year in the No. 1 spot. Buffett, who is the third-richest person in the world according to Forbes, said he will eventually donate 99 percent of his wealth to charity.

Another top giver from last year’s list, Michael Bloomberg, may give Buffett a run for his money in 2018, as the former New York mayor announced earlier this month that he is giving his alma mater, John Hopkins University, $1.8 billion to boost financial aid to lower- and middle-income students.

Here are top 5 biggest givers in the U.S., according to Forbes’ 2017 list.

  1. Warren Buffett

2017 Giving: $2.8 billion

In 2006, the renowned investor promised he will eventually donate about 99 percent of his wealth, and he is well on his way of achieving that goal. Last year, he gave more than $2 billion in stock to his friend Bill Gates’ foundation, as well as other contributions to different organizations to fight hunger and promote women’s rights.

  1. Bill & Melinda Gates

2017 Giving: $2.5 billion

The foundation founded by Bill and Melinda Gates is the nation’s largest private philanthropic foundation, with a $50.7 billion endowment. To date, it has doled out more than $50 billion since its inception. The organization heavily supports global health, international development and U.S. education.

  1. Michael Bloomberg

2017 Giving: $702 million

The former mayor of New York and founder of Bloomberg LP, has doled out more than $7 billion to philanthropic causes over the years. In 2018, he made headlines when he announced that he give his alma mater, John Hopkins University $1.8 billion to an effort to boost financial aid to lower and middle income students.

  1. Walton Family

2017 Giving: $536 million

Sam Walton’s children – Alice and Rob – have been actively keeping their father’s family foundation thriving since it was founded in 1987. In 2017, the foundation gave $193 million to K-12 education, $86 million to environmental causes and $60 million to their home region of northwest Arkansas.

  1. George Soros

2017 Giving: $531 million

In 2017, Forbes reported that Soros had shifted $18 billion from his family office to his foundation over the last several years, making it one of the world’s largest charitable organizations in the country. The business magnate donates to a slew of organizations focused on fighting discrimination, expanding access to education and health care, and protecting the freedom of the press.