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Large charitable donations on the rise, report says

SEATTLE — Money donated by the nation's most chartable people is starting to catch up with prerecession giving, thanks in part to some very large bequests from a few donors.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported Monday in its annual report of the nation's most generous people that the top 50 donors made pledges in 2011 to give a total of $10.4 billion.

The donors gave a total of $3.3 billion in 2010, the smallest total since the Chronicle began tracking the biggest donors in 2000. A decade ago, the top 50 givers gave $12.5 billion.

Two people are conspicuously absent from the top 50 list this year: Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. That's because the Chronicle doesn't include payments on gifts promised in past years in its spreadsheet of top givers. Gates and Buffett made large payments on past pledges in 2011.

It took gifts totaling at least $26 million to make the list this year. People on the list gave a median of $61 million in 2011, compared with $39.6 million in 2010.

The Chronicle notes that 379 of the Forbes 400 wealthiest Americans did not report making any big charitable gifts.

The Chronicle creates it annual list by asking the nation's wealthiest people and America's biggest nonprofits to report on charitable giving. Not all donors disclose their giving publicly, however, and the list does not include gifts from anonymous donors. The Chronicle reported 76 anonymous gifts of $1 million or more in 2011, which totaled $546 million.

Top donors of 2011

1. Margaret Cargill estate: The agri-business heiress of La Jolla, Calif., died in 2006 but her estate put $6 billion into the two foundations she set up to support the arts, the environment, disaster relief and other causes.

2. William S. Dietrich II: The Pittsburgh steel executive died last year and left $500 million to a foundation set up in his name to support colleges and universities.

3. Paul Allen: The Microsoft co-founder put $372.6 million into the Allen Institute for Brain Science, Seattle's Experience Music Project and other charitable ventures.

4. George Soros: Thehedge fund financier donated $335 million to Open Society Foundations, which promote democracy around the world.

5. Michael Bloomberg: New York's mayor gave $311.3 million to a total of 1,185 nonprofits that benefit the arts, human services, public affairs and other causes.

Large charitable donations on the rise, report says 02/06/12 [Last modified: Monday, February 6, 2012 11:13pm]
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