NET WORTH: $600 million, estimated
SOURCE of WEALTH: U2, Elevation Partners
FUNDING AREAS: AIDS, Africa, Humanitarian Causes
OVERVIEW: While Bono is a leading voice for the world’s poor, particularly those in Africa, and donates a lot of time to philanthropic causes, it’s difficult to track his own personal giving.
BACKGROUND: Born Paul Allen Hewson, Bono is the frontman of the Dublin-based rock group U2. As part of the band, he has won more than 20 Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe, and been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In addition to being a world-famous rock star, Bono co-owns a hotel in Dublin, and has a private equity fund called Elevation Partners, which has purchased stock in Forbes Media and Facebook. He and his wife Ali Hewson spit between Dublin, New York, and Nice.
IRELAND: Of the few monetary donations we can find records of, the largest was a €5m donation to Music Generation, Ireland’s national music education program, made by the entire band. Bono also personally gave €50,000 to One in Four Ireland, a charity that helps survivors of sexual abuse.
AFRICA: Bono co-founded Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa (DATA) in 2002 to address the major issues that are facing Africa, and preventing it from catching up to the rest of the developing world. It’s not clear how much of his own money Bono put toward the effort; the majority of it is said to have come from Bill and Melinda Gates, George Soros, and tech entrepreneur Ed Scott. Bono is a co-founder and spokesperson for the ONE Campaign, which he helped form in 2004, bringing together 11 nonprofit humanitarian and advocacy organizations to fight extreme poverty and preventable diseases, again in Africa. These organizations include Oxfam America, International Medical Corps, International Rescue Committee, Save the Children, Mercy Corps, and DATA.
GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT & POVERTY: Outside of the donations he’s surely made to DATA and the ONE Campaign, Bono has supported Concern Worldwide, which focuses on long term development projects in health, education, emergency responses, skills training, and other areas in some of the world’s poorest communities. Concern Worldwide was also the recipient of the proceeds from the sale of the Achtung Baby tribute album released in 2011.
Bono has helped put on events to raise money for Self-Help Africa, and donated memorabilia to Brazil’s Zero Hunger Campaign. He’s also reportedly supported Chernobyl Children International, the Clinton Global Initiative, Every Mother Counts, Keep A Child Alive, Make Poverty History, Millennium Villages, Not On Our Watch, the Red Cross, the Lunchbox Fund, UNICEF, War Child, Water.org, Witness and others.
ENVIRONMENT: Bono is a known supporter of Greenpeace and the Wildlife Conservation Society.
(RED): Bono and his main philanthropic partner Bobby Shriver created (RED) to raise money for the United Nations Foundation’s Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. (RED) is a licensed brand that companies such as Apple, Motorola, Starbucks, Converse, GAP, Armani, and Beats Electronics use to create products with the Red branding, giving a portion of the profits from these products to the Global Fund. Like most of his other philanthropic endeavors, Bono’s main role is as a spokesperson. U2 has also released singles to raise money through Product (Red).
EDUN: In 2005, Bono and his wife, Ali Hewson, put up $20 million to create Edun, a global fashion brand with a goal to promote trade in Africa by sourcing production throughout the continent. Additionally, the couple established the Conservation Cotton Initiative Uganda (CCIU) through Edun to provide funding, training and enterprise support to cotton farmers to help build sustainable businesses in Northern Uganda.
LOOKING FORWARD: Bono and his bandmates don’t show any signs of slowing down their music careers or their philanthropy. And with Elevation Partners’ big bet on Facebook paying off, Bono has a lot more capital to play with now. There’s a good chance a lot of it could go to the UN Foundation’s Global Fund, but with all the creative ways Bono has raised money for charity, it’s quite possible we’ll see something a little more entrepreneurial out of him—maybe funding a prize for innovative solutions that deal with health, education, poverty, and other issues in Africa.