As the very richest Americans get even richer, they are giving away more money. A new release from The Chronicle of Philanthropy shows that the 10 largest new charitable gifts from individuals announced in 2013 came to a combined $3.45 billion.
The biggest gift was made by Facebook cofounder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan. In December, the couple gave 18 million shares of Facebook — worth $992 million – to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.
Zuckerberg made the same gift last year – 18 million shares of Facebook – but at the time that amount of shares were worth just under $500 million. As the value of Facebook shares has risen over the past year, Zuckerberg’s net worth has climbed as well, to $25 billion, compared to $12.2 billion at the end of 2012.
Most of the other big gifts were pledges to be paid out over a number of years. The second largest gift was a $500 million pledge by Nike founder Phil Knight and his wife, Penelope, to the Oregon Health & Science University Foundation, for cancer research. Outgoing New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg took the third spot with a pledge of $350 million to Johns Hopkins University for student financial aid and for an effort to promote cross-disciplinary work.
Warren Buffett’s $2 billion gift of Berkshire Hathaway stock, made in July 2013 to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was not included in the Chronicle of Philanthropy list because it was not a newly announced gift, explained the publication’s editor, Stacy Palmer.
The combined total of the 10 largest gifts in 2013 was smaller than in 2012, primarily because Warren Buffett made a special $3 billion gift to his children’s foundations in 2012, bringing the total of the top ten gifts to $5.1 billion. However, Palmer pointed out that in general billionaires are giving larger sums: the 10th largest gift in 2012 was $60 million, compared to $100 million in 2013.
“It was a healthier year for giving,” said The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s Palmer. “It wasn’t just at this mega level. We track gifts of $1 million or more, and at that level many more people are giving. It’s a sign that people are feeling much better about the economy.”
(updating with details of the largest gifts)