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The giving Gates
Microsoft founder and his wife top list of 2004 donors, followed by Warren Buffett's late wife.
March 2, 2005: 4:19 PM EST
by Aaron Smith, CNN/Money staff writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - They're the Gates that keep on giving.

Microsoft (down $0.02 to $25.26, Research) mogul Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda, were the top philanthropists in 2004, according to a newly published list identifying the nation's leading donors.

The couple paid $627 million and pledged $2.7 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (See correction), topping the Slate 60 with a $3.4 billion total. The foundation provides funds for public education and global health.

The Slate 60 is published annually by the online magazine Slate and the Chronicle of Philanthropy, a print and online publication tracking donors, foundations, and their activities.

The second slot went to Susan T. Buffett, the late wife of investor king Warren Buffett. A bequest of $2.6 billion was paid to a foundation in the name of Susan Buffett, who died last year, and to the Howard G. Buffett Foundation -- named for her son -- and Spirit Foundation.

The donations for the top 60 philanthropists totaled $10.1 billion in 2004, a two-thirds jump from the 2003 total of $5.9 billion, according to Michael Solomon, spokesman for the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

"We took that as a sign that the rebound in the economy is affecting charities in a positive way," said Solomon.

Solomon said this was the first time since at least 2001 that members of the Buffett family had appeared on the list.

He said another generous newcomer was Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York City and founder of Bloomberg LP, a provider of financial information and news. Bloomberg placed 10th on the list with his paid donation of $138 million to various education, health care and social services organizations.

The list does not track anonymous donors, which might explain Bloomberg's prior absence, said Solomon. Slate started the list in 1996, and has collaborated with the Chronicle of Philanthropy since 2001. Solomon said he did not know if Bloomberg and the Buffetts had appeared on the list prior to 2001.

Gates and Warren Buffett were named on another list Tuesday, identifying the most influential businessmen.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misnamed the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as the Melinda Gates Foundation. CNN/Money regrets the error. (Go to the corrected paragraph)  Top of page

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