Top Philanthropists Transforming Lives Through Donations

Top Philanthropists Transforming Lives Through Donations


What does it take to make a real difference in the world? How can someone leave a mark that changes lives, uplifts communities, and creates a brighter future for all? The answer is Philanthropy– a word that signifies much more than giving. Derived from the ancient Greek roots ‘philos’ (loving) and ‘athropos’ (man or humanity). India is home to many top philanthropists whose donations contribute to India’s development. Philanthropy in India is as old as India itself. The Bhagavad Gita, a very popular Hindu Scripture says that One who enjoys abundance without sharing with others is indeed a thief. Charity and philanthropy have always been part of the Indian traditions.

We all have heard of the visionary industrialist Jamsetji Tata and his remarkable contribution to the industry. The first known Indian endowment was the J.N. Tata Endowment. It was established by him in 1892 and encouraged Indian students to pursue higher education. Jamsetji was named the greatest philanthrope of the 20th century by the EdelGive Foundation and Hurun Research India. With donations worth $102.4 billion, he is the world’s biggest philanthropist of the last century, much ahead of Bill and Melinda Gates.

In October 2023, EdelGive Hurun released the India Philanthropy List 2023. It reflects that India’s richest are not only growing richer but also becoming more generous. According to the report, Hurun India found 119 philanthropists who donated more than Rs 5 crores in FY’23, an increase of 11% from last year. The report also listed 25 new entrants, with  Infosys Co-Founder K Dinesh standing out as ‘most generous’ by donating Rs 47 crore. 

Top 10 Philanthropists in India

Rank Name Donation (INR Cr) Change % Company
1 (-) Shiv Nadar & Family 2042 76% HCL Technologies
2 (-) Azim Premji & Family 1774 267% Wipro
3 (-) Mukesh Ambani & Family 376 -8% Reliance Industries
4 (-) Kumar Birla & Family 287 18% Aditya Birla
5 (+2) Gautam Adani & Family 285 50% Adani
6 (+11) Bajaj Family 264 234% Bajaj
7 (+1) Anil Agarwal & Family 241 46% Vedanta
8 (+1) Nandan Nilekani 189 19% Infosys
9 (+4) Cyrus S Poonawalla & Adar Poonawalla 179 60% Serum Institute of India
10 (+1) Rohini Nilekani 170 41% Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies

Source: Hurun Research Institute; EdelGive Hurun India Philanthropy List 2023

Top 5 Philanthropists

  • Shiv Nadar & Family

Foundation: Shiv Nadar Foundation

Top Philanthropists, Shiv Nadar

One man who always stays in the headlines when it comes to philanthropy is Shiv Nadar. He has topped the EdelGive Hurun Philanthropy List 2023 again for the fifth consecutive year by donating over Rs 2,042 crore or Rs 5.6 crore per day. He has contributed 76% more than his donations in FY22 (1161 crore).

The Shiv Nadar Foundation believes in Creative Philosophy. The Foundation works on creating institutions that go beyond the lifetime of its founders and continue to impact future generations. 

  • Azim Premji & Family

Foundation: Azim Premji Foundation

Top Philanthropists, Azim Premji

Azim Premji and his family have secured the second position with a donation of INR 1,774 crore. Azim’s contribution to philanthropy started in 2001 with the endowment of Wipro. The shares are worth $125 million to the Azim Premji Foundation. 66% of the economic ownership of Wipro, along with other assets, is with the Foundation. The foundation has field institutes in 55 districts across 7 states and one union territory.  

In FY22, Premji donated Rs 484 crore. During the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Premji’s Wipro committed Rs 1,125 crore to tackle the humanitarian crisis.

  • Mukesh Ambani

Foundation: Reliance Foundation

Top Philanthropists, Mukesh Ambani

Mukesh Ambani is among the top 10 richest people in the world. He has a net worth of $95.1 billion (as of Dec 23). He has donated INR 376 Crore. Led by the Founder Chairperson, Smt. Nita M Ambani, Reliance Foundation has touched the lives of more than 70 million people across India in more than 54,300 villages and several urban locations.

The Foundation has a three-pronged strategy. It focuses on direct engagement, collaborations through partnerships, and leveraging technology to create an ecosystem of development. The Foundation focuses on Rural Transformation, Health, Education, Sports, Disaster Management, Women Empowerment, Arts, Culture and heritage and Urban Renewal.

  • Kumar Mangalam Birla & Family

Foundation: Aditya Birla Centre for Community Initiatives and Rural Development

Top Philanthropists, Kumar Mangalam Birla & Family

Kumar Mangalam Birla is a famous industrialist and Chairperson of Aditya Birla Group. He secured the fourth position in the EdelGive Hurun India Philanthropy List 2023. Around INR 75 crore comes from his funds, reflecting his commitment to humankind.

The Foundation so far has touched and made a difference in many lives. It has treated over a million patients and immunised 100 million children against polio. The foundation has supported 10,000 cancer patients through various projects. It runs 6000 medical camps and 24 hospitals, reaches out to over 100,000 students, and offers skills training for 100,000 people and more. 

  • Gautam Adani & Family 

Foundation: The Adani Foundation

Top Philanthropists, Gautam Adani

Gautam Adani and his family contributed to philanthropy with a  donation of Rs 285 crore. The contribution places them fifth in the philanthropy list released by EdelGive Hurun. 

Founded in 1996, The Adani Foundation takes inspiration from the Gandhian philosophy of trusteeship. It strives to create sustainable opportunities. These opportunities include facilitating quality education, empowering the youth with income-generating skills, and supporting infrastructure development.

The Most Generous Indian Women

Rank Name Donation (INR Cr) Company
1 Rohini Nilekani 170 Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies
2 Kiran Mazumdar Shaw 96 Biocon
3 Anu Aga & Family 23 Thermax
3 Leena Gandhi Tewari 23 USV
4 Manju D Gupta & Family 14 Lupin
5 Vembu Radha 13 Zoho Corporation
6 Renu Munjal & Family 9 Hero Motorcorp

Source: Hurun Research Institute; EdelGive Hurun India Philanthropy List 2023

Ratan Tata: A Legacy of Philanthropy

Top Philanthropists, Ratan Tata

Ratan Tata’s story isn’t just about business success but about spreading kindness far and wide. He is famously known for donating sums of money to pressing causes. 

Much of the Tata family’s legacy is about helping others through philanthropy. Sir Ratan Tata Trust (SRTT), established in 1919, is now one of the oldest grant bestowing foundations in the country. Tata  Trusts donates 66% of the money earned by Tata companies to help in healthcare, education, rural development and sports. 

Over the years, the Trust has made many donations. The first is a donation to Cornell University in 2008. Second, a $50 million donation for the construction of an executive centre at Harvard Business School in 2010. Finally, a Rs 950 million donation to IIT Bombay to form the Tata Center for Technology and Design for people and communities in 2014. Tata  Trusts also donated Rs 1,500 crore to fight the Covid-19 pandemic in India. 

Here are some sectors under which Tata Trust is making significant contribution:

  • Healthcare

15,950,150 million beneficiaries

25 States and UTs covered

  • Education

36,84,869 beneficiaries

26 States and UTs covered

  • Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

2,324,182 beneficiaries

14 States covered

  • Nutrition

Reached out to 4,803,688 individuals

121,607 households benefited 

13 States covered

  • Livelihood

1,447,657 families benefited

28 States covered

  • Social Justice and Inclusion

Reached out to 641,804 individuals

28 States covered
27 Partnered Organisations

  • Skill Development

101,700 beneficiaries

Rs 5808– average monthly income of employed and self-employed

  • Environment and Energy

2507 households with access to lighting from renewable sources

503 awareness campaigns conducted

60,977 clean products

On The Other Side  

EdelGive Hurun India Philanthropy list has consistently grown over the past seven years, from just 27 entrants in 2016-17. However, the average donation has not been consistent. In 2016-17, it was ₹86 crore, which increased to ₹107 crore and ₹140 crore in 2019-20 and 2020-21, respectively. The figure fell to ₹52 crore in 2021-22 but grew again to ₹71 crore in 2022-23. The statistics highlight that the contribution of Indian Philanthropists has halved from the Covid era. 

Philanthropy: The Ultimate Mantra To Lasting Social Change

Philanthropy isn’t just about giving; it’s about sharing the warmth in our hearts with those who need it most. As Warren Buffett wisely says, “If you’re in the luckiest 1% of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99%.” 

When we stand together to lend a hand, we’re not just spreading kindness; we’re stitching hope into the fabric of our communities. It’s the compassion that binds us, making our communities stronger, brighter, and filled with the promise of a better tomorrow.

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