Warren Buffett has come through again—if only by happenstance.
Buffett pledged more than $3 billion to his children’s foundations in 2012, making him the most generous donor among America’s biggest philanthropists, according to a survey released Tuesday by The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
The largest gifts announced last year amounted to some $5.1 billion, The Chronicle reported. Absent Buffett’s largesse, however, the total of the biggest gifts would have been just $2 billion, far off the $2.6 billion level in 2011.
The Chronicle saw a good sign for 2013 in three December announcements of gifts of more than $100 million. Thirteen commitments in 2012 (including Buffett’s) were for $100 million or more.
Even after the recession’s end, charities continue to struggle to raise big donations.
In 2007, the biggest individual gifts amounted to $4.1 billion, and skyrocketed to $8 billion in 2008 (with more than half coming from one donor). Big donations then plummeted to $2.7 billion in 2009 and to $1.4 billion in 2010.
Things picked up in 2012, with gifts of $1 million or more totaling $6.1 billion, compared with $5.4 billion in 2011.
Following is The Chronicle’s baker’s dozen of the biggest gifts in 2012 by American philanthropists. It does not include anonymous gifts of artwork or other noncash donations or gifts.
13. James Simons, a technology entrepreneur, and his wife Marilyn pledged $60 million to UC Berkeley for a new computing institute.
12. Businessman David Koch (left) pledged $60 million to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for renovations of its outdoor plaza.
11. Financier John Paulson and his wife Jenny pledged $100 million to the Central Park Conservancy for endowment and park-restorations programs.