Philanthropy made a major resurgence in 2013, with the wealthiest U.S. donors dedicating more than $3.4 billion to charitable causes.
The Chronicle of Philanthropy recently tallied the top 10 gifts of the last year. Analysis found that donors shared more gifts of at least $100 million or more than in 2012. In 2013, there were 15 publicly announced gifts of $100 million or more, up from 11 in 2012.
Colleges and universities were among the main beneficiaries of some of the nation’s largest donations. Top donors for 2013 included Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan; Nike co-founder Phil Knight; former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg; and financier Charles Johnson.
Top gifts offered by the wealthiest American philanthropists were presented to Georgetown University, Yeshiva University, Tsinghua University, Stanford University, Yale University, University of Michigan, Columbia Business School and University of California – San Diego. Zuckerberg’s donation to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation – $990 million – ranked as the highest donation of 2013.
After years of slower activity, the upward trend provides a more positive outlook for American nonprofit organizations. The increase in larger gifts has been attributed to optimism about the U.S. economy and improvements in the stock market.
The top 10 gifts exceeded $5 billion in 2012. However, last year’s list included three $1 billion gifts from business investor and magnate Warren Buffett to his children’s foundations. By excluding those gifts from the tally, the other top gifts of 2012 totaled just $2 billion ($3.4 billion in 2013). The study also examined gifts of $1 million or more, which delivered $9.6 billion in 2013 ($6.1 billion in 2012).
Still, philanthropists failed to give as much financial support in 2013 as before the Great Recession of 2008. In 2007, the largest gifts totaled a record $4.1 billion.