NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


February 27, 2007

As the rich get richer, they get more generous. Much more generous, says USA Today.

The number of individual donations of $100 million or more hit a record in 2006, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, which compiles a yearly list of the biggest givers.

  • Last year, there were 21 donations of $100 million or more by individuals to universities, hospitals and charities, compared with 11 in 2005.
  • The biggest gift by far was Warren Buffett's pledge to donate stock in his investment firm Berkshire Hathaway, now worth $43.5 billion, to several groups, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
  • Even without this huge donation, the philanthropy of the country's 60 most generous givers hit a record $7 billion in 2006, up from $4.3 billion the year before.

The reason for the increase in mega-gifts is simple: There are more people with deep pockets, says USA Today.

"It's a sign that wealth is growing and people are just raising their sights in terms of philanthropy," says Stacy Palmer, editor of the Chronicle.

Universities and other fundraising institutions ask for more and larger contributions, too:

  • Nike co-founder Phil Knight, gave $105 million to Stanford's business school.
  • David Rockefeller, gave away $225 million, mostly to the Rockefeller family foundation.
  • Oilman T. Boone Pickens, gave away $172 million, including $160 million to set up his own foundation.
  • New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, gave $165 million to 1,000 groups but would name only five, which combat smoking.

Source: Martha T. Moore, "Philanthropy hits record as number of $100 million donations increase," USA Today, February 27, 2007.

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