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David Koch

David Koch

David Koch

Amount donated: Total lifetime giving of $1.2bn (2014).

Philanthropic causes: Medical research, technology, arts, education, prison reform.

Region of philanthropic focus: Throughout the U.S.

Ranking: #26 (ForbesAmerica’s Top 50 Givers).

Net worth: $43.1bn according to Forbes real time net worth 2016.

Source of wealth: Diversified – oil pipelines, refineries, building materials, paper towels, energy solutions, chemical technology.


David Koch has spent a vast sum of his fortune – over a billion USD – on an array of different philanthropic causes, ranging from medical research – in particular cancer-related research, care and treatment technologies – to environmental stewardship and reform of the U.S. criminal justice system. Renowned as being one of the most generous but low-key philanthropists in America, Koch has pumped $1.2bn into charitable causes over the course of his lifetime and continues to make generous contributions, funding different projects throughout the U.S.

David Koch has enjoyed a varied career spanning over four decades, a period that has taken him from being the president of his own engineering company to standing as a candidate in the 1980 U.S. presidential election.

David, along with his four brothers, was born into a relatively wealthy family. David’s father, Fred C. Koch, was himself an entrepreneur and a major player in the engineering and oil refining

industries. Having completed his degree in Chemical Engineering Practice from the world-renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the senior Koch went on to form the Rock Island Oil & Refining Company, a multinational, multifaceted corporation that was to bring fame and fortune and shape the future of his son’s life.

At the age of thirty in 1970, having followed in his father’s footsteps and completed his master’s degree in chemical engineering from MIT, David went on to begin his career at the Rock Island Oil & Refining Company. He quickly worked his way through the ranks and took the already flourishing business to even greater heights.

Brothers David and Charles then became principal owners of the company, later renamed Koch Industries in honour of their late father.

David changed the company massively from the time of its conception when it was an oil refining company. It’s now involved in a range of different industries, including the manufacturing and refining of polymers and chemicals, in addition to numerous other ventures and projects.

As of 2015 Koch Industries was the second largest privately held company in the U.S. with an annual revenue of $115bn.

Today David Koch, at the age of 75 is still actively involved in Koch Industries but has his hands in other ventures. He is heavily involved in politics, but ensures he balances his political endeavours with charitable giving. His large donations have benefited numerous organisations throughout the U.S. He doesn’t do so for fame or fortune or to gain a greater amount of recognition for his other achievements. “I am truly committed to making the world a better place”, Koch has stated in a U.S. interview.

There have been instances that have made medical research the main focus of his philanthropic efforts.

I had prostate cancer and it was advanced, so I decided to make that a major cause. I’m involved in 10 different medical centres. My mother, she loved classical music, the opera, the ballet, that’s why I donate to the arts”.

Being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1992 encouraged David to fund medical research, using his wealth to launch a crusade against the potentially fatal disease. David Koch’s New York-based spokeswoman, Cristyne Nicholas has said: “That’s what his legacy will hopefully be: finding a cure for cancer. That is his goal in life right now and it far exceeds any other work-related aspirations he may have which are strong.”

To list just some of David’s medical donations:

A donation of $100m to MIT which resulted in the creation of the David Koch institute for integrative cancer research.

$40m to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in New York.

$25m to New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery.

David has also done his bit to help people in different areas of society, funding education movements and reform across the U.S., and continues to give due to his belief that “free societies are the greatest generators of social progress, sustainable prosperity and well-being” – as stated on the Kochfamilyfoundations website.