Record giving in ths US

Record giving in ths US

News (International)

Over $15.5bn (£10.8bn) was committed to charity in 2008 by the 50 most generous US philanthropists, a 112% increase on the amount given in 2007, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Topping the list in 2008 was a bequest of $5.2bn (£3.6bn), made by Leona M Helmsley,  followed by another bequest of $4.5bn (£3.2bn) made by James LeVoy Sorenson. The two accounted for almost two-thirds of the total amount given by those on the list.

Of the 50 donors, 13 were bequests compared to four on the 2007 list, and four of the top five donations in 2008 were bequests. In 2007 all five of the biggest donors were living.

A record-equalling twenty one gifts of $100m (£70m) or more were made, which surpassed the 20 $100m (£70m) gifts made in 2007. Despite this, the median gift in 2008 was $69.3m (£48.5m), down 7.2% from the previous year. Donors had to give at least $30.5m (£21.4m) to be part of the list, a decrease of 20% from 2007.

Michael Bloomberg was the only donor who was included in the top 10 in both the 2007 and the 2008 lists. Prominent philanthropists such as T. Boone Pickens, Oprah Winfrey, and Pierre and Pam Omidyar, who were recognised in the lists of each of the three previous years, were not present in 2008.

Higher education, foundations, and museums and libraries were the main beneficiaries. Environmental groups also received support from 15 of the donors on the list. The five biggest donors and 16 of all the donors on the list gave money to personal foundations.

International groups, historic preservation and donor advised groups received the least support.

The top 10 donors in 2008 were:

  1. Leona M. Helmsley, family wealth, hotels, $5.2bn (Private foundation)
  2. James LeVoy Sorenson, invention, investments, $4.5bn (Private foundation)
  3. Peter G. Peterson and joan Ganz Cooney, finance, $1bn (Private foundation, economics, children, museum, medical)
  4. Harold Alfond, manufacturing, retail, $360m (Private foundation)
  5. Donald B. and Dorothy L. Stabler, construction, real estate, $334.3m (Private foundation, education)
  6. David G. and Suzanne D. Booth, finance, $300m (Education)
  7. Frank C. Doble, energy, $272m (Education)
  8. Robert L. and Catherine H. McDevitt, investments, $250m (Education, religion, medical and other)
  9. Michael R. Bloomberg, media and entertainment, $235m (Arts, education, medical and social-service organisations)
  10. Dorothy Clarke Patterson, family wealth, $225m (Private foundation)

Visit the Chronicle of Philanthropy website to view the entire list.

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