1. Warren Buffett

Getty Images

1. Warren Buffett

Berkshire Hathaway CEO

2004-08 Giving* $40,655 million

Buffett's $31 billion commitment to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, announced in June 2006, resonated throughout the philanthropic community.The giving is aimed at funding education and global health initiatives. This year the commitment to the Gates Foundation still resonates, inspiring other donors with a new model of philanthropy. Buffett, the world's second-richest man, also earmarked billions for the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, and the NoVo Foundation—independent family foundations that support causes ranging from reproductive health to worldwide conservation.

For more, visit the Warren Buffett Philanthropy topic on Business Exchange.

*Based on public records and interviews with donors
Data: BusinessWeek, The Chronicle of Philanthropy and the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University