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Philanthropy 50: New report ranks America's 50 top donors and gift recipients

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In a new report released this morning, February 10, 2013, The Chronicle of Philanthropy has ranked the 50 donors who gave the most to charitable causes in 2013. Contributions were in excess of $7.5 billion; an increase of 4 percent over 2012 donations.

According to the Chronicle, the 2013 stock market surge was the driver behind the surge, but one expert suggests 'the inter-generational transfer of wealth is kicking into high gear and that charities can count on getting lots of big gifts in 2014 and beyond'. Claire Costello, a philanthropic executive at U.S. Trust, said, "There is a glut of money out there."

The Giving Pledge, announced by Warren Buffett and Bill gates in 2010, is a campaign to encourage the wealthiest people in the world to give most of their wealth to philanthropic causes. There are currently 122 individuals/couples who have signed the pledge. According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, 23 individuals/couples who appeared on the Philanthropy 50 list also were on the Forbes 400 list, giving a total of $4.8-billion in 2013.

As reported on January 1, 2014, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's co-founder and his wife, Priscilla Chan, topped the Philanthropy 50 list with a gift to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation of close to $1 billion, which made the organization one of the largest foundations in the country. They were also among the youngest top donors during the year. However, there is little to demonstrate a large increase in young donors. The median age of those on the Philanthropy 50 list is 72.5 years.

Colleges and Universities received the most charitable gifts; 30 educational institutions received approximately $2.6 billion in 2013. Among the largest benefactors are Irwin and Joan Jacobs (No.8), who provided $133 million to create the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute at Cornell NYC Tech. The Institute will promote business ventures between academia and industry. Mr. Jacobs said, "it's a very exciting approach being able to train more students and encourage them to become entrepreneurs. Hopefully, there will be many companies that come out of this and create jobs." John List, an economist at the University of Chicago who studies fundraising said, "When you look at what's driving innovation in our society, much of it is coming from higher education. Many state universities are facing crippling budgets because state legislatures are cutting funds. They have to rely on private donors to keep programs going."

There were 14 private foundations who received the second largest amounts; approximately $2.1 billion. But, according to the Chronicle, 'other big donors focused beyond the local level. John and Laura Arnold (No.4), who gave $296.2 million in 2013, loaned $10 million to the National Head Start Association in October to keep 7,000 children in programs that have either closed or were set to be shuttered as a result of the federal-government shutdown. Improving government accountability and efficiency is one of the Arnold's main missions, and they are especially focused on education and criminal justice. They are major players in supporting pay-for-success programs, also known as social impact bonds. Josh McGee, the foundation's vice president for public accountability said, " Profits or not, the Arnolds are going to reinvest whatever money they get back getting other social-impact bonds off the ground. We think it's a really good tool to facilitate government trying promising, innovative approaches to social programs."

Top donors gave very little to environmental causes, children and youth groups or public broadcasting in 2013. Hospitals and medical centers came in at No.3, receiving charitable gifts totaling approximately $343.9 million.

The report in it's entirety, including a complete data analysis, may be accessed using the link above.

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