The Top Donors of 2013

The year 2013 was a fantastic year for philanthropy. According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, the total donation amount of $7.7 billion in 2013, is up 4% from the total accumulated in 2012. This is, in part, due to an improvement in the overall economy and a strong stock market.

Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett’s Giving Pledge campaign is also credited in part. It is reported that 19 of the 50 top donors for 2013 have signed the pledge. Notably, neither Buffet nor Gates were on the Top 50 list. That isn’t to say that these people are not generous, as the list only counts commitments made during the fiscal year to avoid counting the same amount twice.

The surge in donations is also due in part to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife. They donated roughly $1 billion in Facebook stock to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The donation makes the Silicon Valley Community Foundation one of the biggest foundations in the nation. The donation itself represents approximately 13% of the total given by the nation’s Top 50 donors.

The next biggest donation was a $750 million donation by the late George Mitchell, a pioneer in the fracking industry. His donation to the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation will help provide grants for various environmental causes.

Rounding out the top ten are Nike co-founder Phil Knight, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, hedge fund manager John Arnold, owner of the San Francisco Giants Charles Johnson, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs, Google co-founder Sergey Brin, and the late Jeffrey Carlton, founder of Press Forge.

Perhaps the most interesting donor on the list is Jack MacDonald. MacDonald passed away last year and split his $139 million between the Seattle Children’s Hospital, the University Of Washington School Of Law, and the Salvation Army. The editor of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Stacy Palmer, reported that MacDonald only gave around $20 at a time to the Salvation Army during his life. The press has called MacDonald “the secret millionaire.”

Most donations came from California and New York, and colleges and universities were the largest recipients. College endowments gained an average of 11.7% since last year. Yale University alone received $250 million from Charles Johnson. Foundations, hospitals, medical centers, museums, and human service groups also received large endowments from generous donors.

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