Economy’s Recovery May Help
Coax More Big Donors to Give
certainty and turn it into philanthropy,”
said Richard A. Mittenthal, president
of the TCC Group, which consults with
philanthropies and nonprofits. Said Eli
Broad (No. 5 on the Philanthropy 50),
the real-estate mogul turned philanthropist: “I think 2011 will be a far better year for philanthropy than 2008,
2009, and 2010.”
Continued from Page 1
A Generational Shift?
While nearly half of the gifts of $5-
million or more made by people on the
Philanthropy 50 went to colleges and
universities, signs abound that a generational shift is afoot. No big gifts to
colleges came from the under-50 set;
instead, those youthful donors gave
mostly to medical care, human rights,
social entrepreneurship, and efforts to
improve public schools.
Hospitals and medical centers were
the second most popular cause for The
Chronicle’s top donors. No donations of
$5-million or more went to social-service groups.
Some people on The Chronicle’s list
said their gifts last year were made possible by the economic recovery, sluggish
though it may have been.
As head of the Goldman Sachs mer-chant-banking division, Richard A.
The list’s No. 1 donor,
George Soros, has said
he will be stepping up
his philanthropy over
the next few years.
Friedman (tied for No. 49) says he had
to briefly put off big new commitments
when the markets plunged. A trustee of
New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center, he knew the institution was gearing
up for a capital campaign but said fund
raisers were “smart enough not even to
ask” his family for a big gift that fall.
In late 2009, when the stock market
had stabilized, Mr. Friedman and his
wife, Susan, began seriously considering a big gift. Last January they committed $20-million to the medical center for an institute to spearhead brain
Top of the Rankings
Nonprofit officials recount similar
stories of rich people coming back to the
table—and some organizations are seeing those discussions produce gifts.
Donations of $5-million or more have
picked up at Cornell University, for example. The Ithaca, N.Y., institution received 21 gifts of $5-million or more
last fiscal year (including two donations
from people on The Chronicle’s list) and
is on pace to win a similar number of
gifts this year. In 2009 the university
got just seven gifts of that size.
In a year in which even the country’s
richest people were reluctant to give,
it’s no surprise that the donors sitting
atop The Chronicle’s list are philanthropy stalwarts, people who have become
nearly as well known for their charity
as for their business endeavors.
Leading the list was George Soros,
the hedge-fund manager, who gave
$332-million to his Open Society Foundations, in New York. The 80-year-old
Mr. Soros, who profited handsomely
during the bear market, has said he
will be stepping up his philanthropy
over the next few years.
Next in the rankings was Michael R.
Bloomberg, New York’s billionaire mayor, who divided $279.2-million among
nearly 1,000 charities. More than two-thirds of the groups were in New York,
including charities that press for changes to the immigration system, conduct
cancer research, promote literacy, and
work for a wide range of other causes.
T. Denny Sanford (No. 3 on the list),
the businessman from Sioux Falls,
S.D., made his fifth appearance on The
Chronicle’s list, committing $162.5-mil-
lion to a handful of health and medical
Irwin M. Jacobs, co-founder of telecommunications giant Qualcomm, and
his wife, Joan (No. 4), appeared for the
sixth time on The Chronicle’s list by
Some of the money will help establish
a new medical center at the University
of California at San Diego, where Mr.
Jacobs once worked as a professor. Mr.
Jacobs said he hoped the medical center could pioneer a way to provide high-quality health care at a lower cost—
something he said the controversial
new health-care legislation might make
it easier to achieve.
Rounding out the top five were Mr.
Broad and his wife, Edythe, who gave
$118.3-million to their foundations,
which support efforts to improve the
public-education system, promote medi-cal research, and advance public appreciation of contemporary art.
The three biggest names in philanthropy—Bill and Melinda Gates and
Warren E. Buffett—don’t appear in the
rankings because the money they gave
in 2010 ($46.4-million and $1.9-billion,
respectively) were to pay off pledges announced in previous years. The Chronicle’s list includes only new pledges and
Young Donors, New Causes
As usual, mega-wealthy people gave
generously to their alma maters and
other higher-education institutions. Of
the 65 gifts of $5-million or more from
donors on The Chronicle’s list, 28 went
to colleges and universities. (See article
on Page 7.)
But the youngest donors on the list
favored other causes.
The Facebook co-founder Mark Zuck-
Younger donors, such as Pierre Omidyar, the eBay founder,
and his wife, Pam, 43-year-olds who were No. 16 on The Chronicle’s list,
were less likely to give to traditional institutions
like colleges. The Omidyars supported groups that work
to abolish slavery worldwide and to foster sustainable energy.
erberg (tied for No. 10), at age 26 the
youngest person ever to appear on The
Chronicle’s list, pledged $100-million to
help overhaul Newark, N.J.’s school system. The eBay founder Pierre Omidyar
and his wife, Pam, (No. 16), both 43,
gave $61.5-million, mostly to their philanthropies, which support social entrepreneurship, human rights, and other
The bulk of the $59.3-million that
William A. Ackman, a 44-year old
hedge-fund manager, and his wife, Karen (No. 17), gave last year went to their
foundation, which has joined Mr. Zuckerberg in supporting Newark schools
and is also backing social entrepreneurs and human-rights activists. (See
article on Page 12.)
Whitney Tilson, a 44-year-old hedge-fund manager and friend of Mr. Ackman’s from their Harvard undergraduate days, said he expects the face of big
giving to change with his generation.
“I can think of no less needy charity
than Harvard,” Mr. Tilson said. “I have
to struggle to think of anyone in my age
group who has given big money to a tra-
Government cuts also fueled at least
Lin Arison (No. 28), whose late hus-
band founded Carnival Cruise Lines,
gave $39-million to an arts nonprofit
the two started three decades ago as
a means to spur Miami’s art scene and
foster up-and-coming talent. But her re-
cent gift will help the nonprofit start a
new arts-education program in schools
and comes amid concern about schools
cutting back on arts programs.
‘Giving Pledge’ Results
The big philanthropy event of 2010,
the Gates-Buffett Giving Pledge, influenced few donors last year. Ten of the
couples and individuals on The Chronicle’s Philanthropy 50 list ( 13 people, including spouses) have signed the Giving
Pledge. Mr. Broad and Mr. Jacobs, who
have signed the pledge, said it would
take some time for people to figure out
how to give away their fortunes.
While part of the goal of the Giving
Pledge is to get wealthy people to come
forward as philanthropic role models,
Giving Pledge members haven’t exactly
embraced public giving.
Many declined to respond to The
Chronicle’s requests for information on
their 2010 charity.
In general, public pressure doesn’t
seem to be unlocking many big gifts.
Despite the criticism that financiers
have faced over big bonuses and risky
practices, they showed up on the list in
only slightly higher numbers than in
Goldman Sachs’s Mr. Friedman,
who has served on Mount Sinai’s board
for nearly a decade, said giving was a
personal decision. “You have to decide
whether it’s a priority for you or not. I
don’t think you’re going to get less bad
Caroline Bermudez contributed to this