The Most Generous People in America
This week, The Chronicle of Philanthropy released its list of the 50 Most Generous Donors in 2011. It’s an awe-inspiring list with a total of $10.4 billion given in 2011, a more than three-fold increase from the previous year. We are encouraged to see charitable giving on the rise and hope the trend continues across all income levels. At BiddingForGood, we celebrate charitable giving from big to small and applaud the honorees on this year’s list for their accomplishments in philanthropy. In this week’s round up, we’ll highlight the top 5 names from the list and share their stories.
1. Margaret A. Cargill
Forbes points out that while 47 of the 50 honorees on this year’s list are men, a woman earned the top spot. The late Margaret A. Cargill, an agribusiness heiress, left a $6 billion bequest to two foundations: The Anne Ray Charitable Trust and Margaret A. Cargill Foundation which support the arts, the environment, disaster relief, and other causes. We are proud to see a woman philanthropist recognized at the head of the list but Ms. Cargill may have been more modest about her accomplishments. According to the Chronicle, Ms. Cargill was “quiet donor who loathed public recognition for her largess.”
2. William S. Dietrich II
The late William S. Dietrich II was a steel executive who died in October 2011. He left $500 million to the Dietrich Foundation, which will largely support more than a dozen Pittsburgh and other western Pennsylvania nonprofits. Several universities with close ties to Mr. Dietrich will also benefit including Thiel College, the Greenville, Pa. institution where his parents had met; Princeton University, where Mr. Dietrich earned his bachelor’s degree; and Carnegie Mellon, where he had served as a trustee since 1997.
3. Paul G. Allen
Microsoft’s co-founder Paul G. Allen, 59, earned a spot on the list for the tenth consecutive year. In 2011, Mr. Allen donated $372.6 million which included a $295 million gift to endow his Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and $70 million to the Allen Institute for Brain Science to support neuroscience and genomics-research programs. Mr. Allen also made a $7.6 million contribution to Seattle’s Experience Music Project and the Science Fiction Museum.
4. George Soros
According to the Chronicle, Mr. Soros is chairman of Soros Fund Management, a New York firm that manages hedge funds. Mr. Soros, 81, gave $335-million to his Open Society Foundations which support the development of democratic institutions throughout Central and Eastern Europe and in the Soviet Union. Other awards were made to support the Institute for New Economic Thinking; Bard College, in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., for its public-policy institute; and the Young Men’s Initiative. This is Soros’ sixth year on the list.
5. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg
Mr. Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, founded the Bloomberg financial-data and news-service company. This is his eight year on the philanthropy 50 list. Forbes notes that Mayor Bloomberg, 69, donated $311.3 million in 2011 to 1,185 different nonprofits that support the arts, human services, public affairs, and other causes. That’s more than three nonprofits a day over the course of the year!
For more fun facts about this year’s list of the most generous Americans, click here to see an infographic from the Chronicle of Philanthropy.