The Business of Giving
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The richest Americans are not all that generous
Posted by Kristi Heim
Only 4 percent of the 400 wealthiest Americans listed by Forbes magazine were among the top 50 donors in the country, according to a tally of the nation's leading philanthropists in 2009.
Those top 50 donors gave a total of $4.1 billion to charity in 2009, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, which compiles the list every year.
While it's separate from the Forbes richest list, said the Chronicle's Cynthia Powell, "when we cross compared that with who has the most money, we were just struck by the fact that of the 400 richest Americans, only 17 are giving a lot of money away."
The other most generous Americans were not wealthy enough to make the Forbes list but showed a greater ambition to use their money toward solving social problems, along with a more creative approach, she said.
One obvious question is where are the other 383 richest Americans, the remaining 96 percent, when it comes to philanthropy? Here is the Forbes richest list.
Generosity took a hit along with diminished portfolios in the recession. In 2009, the top donors gave only about a quarter of the money they gave in the previous year. In 2008, the top 50 gifts totaled $15.5 billion.
The top 10 donors in 2009 were:
1. Stanley and Fiona Druckenmiller $705 million to the Druckenmiller Foundation
2. John M. Templeton (Bequest) $573 million to the Templeton Foundation
3. Bill and Melinda Gates, $350 million to the Gates Foundation
4. Michael R. Bloomberg, $254 million to 1,358 groups
5. Louise Nippert, $185 million to the Greenacres Foundation
6. George Soros, $150 million for Fund for Policy Reform and Central Europe Univ
7. Eli and Edythe L. Broad, $105.2 million to the Broad Foundations
8. J. Ronald and Frances Terwilliger, $102 million to Habitat for Humanity and others
9. William P. Clements Jr., $100 million to Southwestern Medical Foundation
10. Pierre and Pam Omidyar, $92 million to Hawaii Community Foundation and others
(Paul Allen was #11 with $85 million, the only other local donor I could find on the list).
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