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Facebook's Zuckerberg tops list of America's 50 biggest donors

  @melhicken February 10, 2014: 1:06 AM ET
zuckerberg donation

Mark Zuckerberg's $1 billion donation represented roughly 13% of the money given by the nation's top 50 donors last year.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

From Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg to a "secret millionaire," the country's 50 biggest donors were far more generous last year.

This crew donated a total of $7.7 billion in 2013, 4% more than in 2012, according to a new report from The Chronicle of Philanthropy. That brought the median donation to $86.1 million, up from $49.6 million in 2012.

Why so generous? The Chronicle credits last year's improving economy and booming stock market for the surge in donations.

Of all the donors, Facebook(FB, Fortune 500) co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan were by far the most generous. The couple donated nearly $1 billion worth of Facebook stock, or 18 million shares, to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The massive gift made the organization, which provides grants to a variety of nonprofits, one of the biggest foundations in the country.

Zuckerberg and his wife (who are 29 and 28 years old, respectively) were also the youngest donors on The Chronicle's list, which had a median age of 72.

Related: More donations top $100 million

The second largest contribution was a $750 million bequest from George Mitchell, a billionaire known for pioneering the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing or "fracking." He died in July at the age of 94.

Those funds will support the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation, which provides grants for clean energy, natural gas sustainability and other environmental projects. One of the foundation's main goals is to prevent environmental damage from the technology that Mitchell himself created, the Chronicle stated.

Other top donations included Nike(NKE, Fortune 500) co-founder Phil Knight's $500 million to the Oregon Health & Science University Foundation for research on the early detection of deadly cancers and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who gave $452 million to a variety of arts, education, environment and public health nonprofits.

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Meanwhile, few people knew how wealthy one of the top donors was until his death at the age of 98 last year. Dubbed a "secret millionaire" by media reports, Jack MacDonald was a thrifty former lawyer in the Seattle office of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs who left behind $139 million in 2013. MacDonald earned his millions by investing the proceeds from the sale of his father's meat company.

His will split his money among the Seattle Children's Hospital, University of Washington School of Law and the Salvation Army, which had no idea that the gift was coming.

"The Salvation Army didn't know at all," said Chronicle editor Stacy Palmer. "They only knew him as a donor who gave $20 at a time."

Related: America's biggest college endowments get even bigger

Philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett were noticeably absent from the top 50 donor list, which is based on new financial commitments made in a given year. It does not track gifts that donors' foundations make using past commitments so as to not count the same money twice.

Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett's Giving Pledge campaign has been credited with inspiring philanthropy among other billionaires. The Chronicle notes that 19 of 2013's top 50 donors have signed the pledge.

The majority of the donations came from California ($2.8 billion) and New York ($1.6 billion) residents, while other large donations came from Texas, Oregon and Washington state residents.

Colleges and universities were the biggest winners, receiving $2.6 billion or roughly a third of all donations. Foundations received another $2.1 billion, while hospitals and medical centers, museums and library groups and human service groups were among the other recipients. To top of page



2013's Top 20 Donors

Rank
Name
Who they are
Donations (millions)
Recipients

1

Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan

Facebook CEO

$992

Silicon Valley Community Foundation

2

George Mitchell

Fracking pioneer (deceased)

$750

Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation

3

Philip and Penelope Knight

Nike co-founder

$500

Oregon Health & Science University Foundation

4

Michael Bloomberg

Former NYC mayor, founder of Bloomberg L.P.

$452

Arts, education, environment, public health and other causes

5

John and Laura Arnold

Hedge fund founder

$296

Laura and John Arnold Foundation, Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund

6

Charles Johnson

Retired businessman, principal owner of San Francisco Giants

$250

Yale University

7

Pierre and Pam Omidyar

eBay founder

$225

Omidyar Network, Humanity United, Ulupono Initiative, and HopeLab

8

Irwin and Joan Jacobs

Qualcomm co-founder

$221

The Jacobs Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute at Cornell NYC Tech, Jewish Community Foundation San Diego Donor Advised Fund, Dunaway Foundation, San Diego Public Library Foundation

9

Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki

Google co-founder

$219

Brin Wojcicki Foundation, Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research

10

Jeffrey Carlton

Founder of Press Forge, a metal alloy company (deceased)

$212

Jeffrey Carlton Charitable Foundation

11

Paul Allen

Microsoft co-founder

$206

Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, EMP Museum

12

Stephen Ross

Real estate mogul

$200

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

13

Ronald Perelman

Finance CEO

$196

Columbia Business School, New York University Langone Medical Center, other groups

14

Muriel Block

Commercial real estate owner

$160

Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University

15

Eli and Edythe Broad

Founder chairman of KB Home and Sun America

$157

Broad Foundations

16

John Arrillaga

Real estate development executive

$151

Stanford University

17

Charles Munger

Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway

$150

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens

18

Theodore (Ted) and Vada Stanley

Businessman

$144

Stanley Family Foundation, Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute, other groups

19

Jack MacDonald

Attorney and investor (deceased)

$139

Salvation Army Northwest Division, University of Washington School of Law, Seattle Children's Hospital

20

T. Denny Sanford

Founder of First Premier Bank

$131

University of California at San Diego, Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation, South Dakota State University

Source: The Chronicle of Philanthropy

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