1. Sir Tom Hunter
Donations: More than £1.01bn.
Causes: The Hunter Foundation, Scottish educational programmesand overseas youth projects.
Pledging to donate more than £1bn to good causes is an unusually mammoth vow, even for the richest man in Scotland. But Sir Tom Hunter is no ordinary philanthropist and the tremors his enormous commitment made last year are still being felt. Sir Tom made his fortune from his sports retail chain Sports Division, which he sold to JJB Sports in the 1990s. The venture capitalist then turned venture philanthropist. Over the next few years, he and his wife plan to give away the majority of the profits from their private equity vehicle West Coast Capital, which invests in such high street retailing giants as BHS and Office. The couple have already donated in excess of £100m to their charity, the Hunter Foundation, over the past 10 years.
2. Christopher Hohn
Causes: £2.9m to the Clinton Foundation for the treatment of HIV/Aids orphans in Malawi, emergency aid to places such as Darfur.
Mr Hohn and his wife, Jamie Cooper-Hohn, set up the Children's Investment Fund Foundation five years ago and have donated more than £800m to the fund. Mrs Cooper-Hohn heavily researches suitable causes for the charity, and much of the money is channelled through projects in Africa.
3. Lord Sainsbury
Causes: The Gatsby Charitable Foundation, a grant-giving organisation which supports education, medicine, science and the arts.
He may be from the family which brought us a supermarket, but David Sainsbury's activities do not stop there. He handed out one of the largest donations ever made to a British university this year. The £82m sum will fund 120 scientists to work at a research facility at Cambridge.
4. Peter Cruddas
Causes: Education and youth-based programmes.
The billionaire son of an East End market trader set up the financial trading group CMC Markets 19 years ago then created the Peter Cruddas Foundation two years ago, and has given more than £100m of his personal fortune to youth-based charities. He once said: "I think it is quite obscene for one person to have such large amounts of money. I am beginning a process to redistribute it to society."
5. David and Heather Stevens
Wealth: £100m after tax.
Donations: Gave £100m of shares to charity last year.
Causes: Environment, children and medical charities.
Their ranking in the Sunday Times Rich List may have slipped from 608th to 784th in the past year, but the founding managers of the British insurance company Admiral are still worth at least £100m. The husband and wife partnership have donated the same sum to various charities over the past year.
6. George Weston
Causes: Churches, youth groups and housing corporations benefit from grants given by the Garfield Weston Foundation.
George Weston, 44, and his family hold a £900m stake in Associated British Foods, which he took control of in 2002. It owns brands such as Twinings, Kingsmill, Jordans and Primark. Mr Weston donates vast sums through the Garfield Weston Foundation – a charity named after his grandfather and set up in 1958.
7. Anthony d'Offay
Causes: Education in the arts and national heritage.
The contemporary art dealer – who has represented the likes of Joseph Beuys and Jeff Koons – sacrificed £98.5m of the value of an art collection to make it affordable to the National Galleries of Scotland and the Tate. He sold the 725 works, valued at £125m, for the comparatively meagre sum of £26.5m, so they would be available for public viewing. Other charitable acts by the dealer include fundraising to help pay for Rachel Whiteread's work Monument in 2001.
8. Johan Eliasch
Causes: The environment, autism charities and the Shimon Peres Foundation.
Johan Eliasch, a former deputy treasurer of the Conservative Party and environmental adviser to Gordon Brown, has also tried his hand as a film producer, banker, professional skier and chairman of the sports retailer Head. Currently chairman of global warming charity Cool Earth, he has bought areas of the Amazon to protect them from illegal logging.
9. Sir Ian Wood
Causes: The Wood Family Trust, Scottish youth projects, economic growth in poorer countries.
The Scottish oil tycoon made a fortune through his energy giant the Wood Group. He set up the Wood Family Trust in 2007 after earning £135m from shares, and has channelled his donations into citizenship schemes. WFT is active in Tanzania and Uganda. This year, WFT has given £2.4m to youth projects.
10. Bob Edmiston
Causes: Education and a charity he founded, Christian Vision.
Importing cars and property sales don't usually link with charity, but they do in Bob Edmiston's case. The owner of IM Group and IM Properties donates a percentage of both companies' profits to funding new schools in the Midlands. Christian Vision – set up 20 years ago – aims to reach one billion people across Africa with Christian radio to offer support and information.
11. Gordon and Anita Roddick
Causes: The Roddick Foundation prioritises human rights, poverty and environmental conservation.
The pigeon is just one of the benefactors of the Roddicks' charitable work. Last year, Mr Roddick invested in a more humane system of keeping pigeons off buildings without causing them any harm. He and his late wife, Dame Anita, made more than £100m when they sold ethical cosmetics company The Body Shop. Since then, he has proved keen to continue his wife's good work.
12. Arpad Busson
Causes: Absolute Return for Kids (ARK), whose gala dinner raised £27m from its celebrity guests last year.
Mr Busson, a French financier who is engaged to Uma Thurman, is a founding trustee of the charity ARK, which was set up in 2002 to help poor and abused children. However, he lost £230m at the hands of the alleged fraudster Bernard Madoff, and it remains to be seen what effect this will have on his charitable work.
13. Sir Elton John
Causes: Elton John Aids Foundation, Oxfam, Breast Cancer Research and many others.
Sir Elton often receives bad press for his ostentatious celebrity parties, hissy fits and extravagance. But few would deny that the singer-songwriter is a force for good whose public and private generosity supports a staggering number of causes. He donates up to 30 per cent of money from ticket sales at each of his live performances.
14. Ros Edwards
Causes: Cambridge University and bursaries for female students.
Mrs Edwards, a Cambridge graduate, donated £30m after Oxford and Cambridge sought £1bn from ex-students to help them match the funding enjoyed by the Ivy League colleges in the US. New Hall College has now been re-named after Mrs Edwards and her husband, who made their fortune selling computer software. It is now called Murray Edwards Hall.
15. Sir John Templeton
Causes: The John Templeton Foundation, the Templeton World Charity Trust, the TempletonReligion Trust.
Sir John Templeton died in July at the age of 95, bequeathing millions to fund to his favourite causes: religion and science.
16. Michael Moritz
Causes: Christ Church college at Oxford University.
Mr Moritz, who studied modern history at Christ Church in the 1970s, is a partner in the US venture capital group Sequoia Capital. He gave £25m of his fortune to the university this year – the biggest bequest it has ever received. The sum will be invested by Oxford University Asset Management to generate returns to be used as income to provide student bursaries.
17. Sigrid and Lisbet Rausing
Donations: More than £20m.
Causes: Arcadia, the Sigrid Rausing Trust, human rights, environmental and cultural projects.
The Rausing fortune sprang from Hans Rausing's Tetra-Pak design for milk and juice cartons. His daughters, Sigrid and Lisbet, lead the family philanthropically. The Sigrid Rausing Trust advocates human rights, while Arcadia works to preserve natural and cultural treasures. Each charity has given away more than £85m so far.
18. Michael Spencer
Causes: More than 100 charities, including Asthma UK, Breast Cancer Research, the Gateway Society, Kids Company, MediCinema and Starlight children's foundation.
Sixteen years ago, the brokerage ICAP set up a charity day which raises funds for good causes. The scheme, which has raised more than £53m, is the brainchild of Mr Spencer, the company's chief executive.
19. Jimmy Heselden
Causes: Hesco Bastion Fund, hospitals, hospices, children's charities and community projects.
Mr Heselden, a former coal-miner, made his fortune inventing a metal cage used to support motorway embankments and flood defences. He decided to use his wealth for good causes and this year set up the Hesco Bastion Fund with Leeds Community Foundation. He plans to bequeath another £1.5m next month.
20. JK Rowling
Causes: One Parent Families Scotland, Comic Relief, Multiple Sclerosis Society Scotland, Children's High Level Group and many more.
The Harry Potter author and avid philanthropist released a short story collection earlier this month which sold a record 2.6m copies on its first day. Tipped to be the biggest seller of 2008 as well as the fastest, her book Tales Of Beadle The Bard has raised millions for the author's charity, the Children's High Level Group, which helps vulnerable children across central and eastern Europe.
21. Dame Vivien Duffield
Causes: Arts, Jewish causes and education.
Dame Vivien inherited £45m from her father, property developer Charles Clore, in 1979 and became chairwoman of the Clore-Duffield Foundation, which has donated £112m to charity. This year it bequeathed £4.2m, including £1m to the National Museum of Cardiff. In the 1990s, she raised half the funds for the £214m rebuilding of the Royal Opera House.
22. John Studzinski
Wealth: £13.5m salary in 2006.
Donations: £2m to £4m.
Causes: Genesis Foundation, Tate Modern.
Known to his friends as "Studs", the American is one of London's most successful investment bankers and was dubbed the most generous businessman by the Beacon Fellowship in 2005. He has predicted tough times for the world of philanthropy but the recession did not stop the devout Catholic from donating £5m to the Tate Modern gallery in London.
23. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Causes: Unicef, youth education.
Manchester United's "baby-faced assassin" is almost as well known for charity work as he is for last-minute goals. Although injury forced him to retire last year, he did pull on the red shirt again in August for a testimonial match in his honour against Spanish club Espanyol. He has pledged to donate most of his £2m fee to the United Nations Children's Fund, for which he is Norwegian ambassador.
24. Peter Harrison
Causes: The Peter Harrison Foundation, sports, education and charities for the disabled.
Most philanthropists like to see a visible return for their cash but Peter Harrison, a self-made businessman, was happy to give £1.5m this year to pay off the long-standing debt of the Jubilee Sailing Trust, a charity which allows the physically disabled to crew large sailing ships. The trust had been planning to sell one of its ships to repay the debt. Mr Harrison made his money selling his computer networking business, Chernikeeff.
25. Rory Brooks
Donations: £1.4m over three years.
Causes: The Rory and Elizabeth Brooks Foundation helps charities such as the Institute of Cancer Research.
Rory Brooks, who heads the private equity investment group MML Capital, gave £1.4m to the Brooks World Poverty Institute at Manchester University. His contribution, as well as £2m from the university, is used to research poverty and inequality.
26. Dr Frederick Mulder
Causes: The Funding Network, the Prairie Trust, social justice and climate change.
As one of the UK's most successful art dealers, Dr Muller's artistic philanthropy includes donating 75 per cent from the sale of the world's most expensive printed Picasso to his charity, the Prairie Trust. He is also the founding chairman of The Funding Network (TFN), a public giving circle where up to 200 people gather four times a year to donate between £100 and £1,000 each to deserving charities.
27. Dame 'Steve' Shirley
Causes: The Shirley Foundation helps people with autism and backs technology projects such as the Oxford Internet Institute.
Dame Stephanie "Steve" Shirley, 73, fled from the Nazis to England in 1939 with other Jewish children. In 1962, she set up a technology company with £6, and it later became the £1bn Xansa group. In the past seven years, her foundation has given away £50m.
28. Alec Reed
Donations: More than £1m.
Causes: The Big Give website, Womankind Worldwide, Ethiopiaid.
The founder of Reed Recruitment has a history of philanthropy. His most recent venture is the Big Give, a website which matches donors with charities that best suit their interests.
29. Duncan Bannatyne
Causes: Casa Bannatyne, a hospice for Romanian orphans with HIV/Aids, and the Bannatyne Charitable Foundation.
The Dragons' Den judge vowed this year to give his entire fortune to charity before he dies, and set up a charitable foundation in his name.
30. Jack Petchey
Causes: Youth charities, education.
Mr Petchey, a successful property investor, owns several holiday resorts in Spain, Portugal and Britain. Since 1999, his Jack Petchey Foundation has given £60m to provide opportunities for young people in London.
BRITAIN'S 30 BIGGEST GIVERS – As nominated by charities and philanthropic organisations including Philanthropy UK, the Community Foundations Network and the Institute of Philanthropy.