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Top 10 Mega-Wealthy Donors in 2012

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Charitable giving by ultrawealthy philanthropists has yet to recover from the 2008 economic shock, according to a study published last week by The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

The donors on The Chronicle’s 2013 Philanthropy 50 committed a total of $7.4 billion to charity in 2012. The median gift was $49.6 million, down from the 2007 high of $74.7 million.

The report said most of the money went to brand-name institutions, with 72% of donor pledges supporting higher education, arts and culture, hospitals and private foundations.

Wealthy donors’ support of institutions that have a record of securing big gifts have helped those groups weather the recession, according to the report. Columbia University, UCLA’s School of Public Health and the Central Park Conservancy were among such beneficiaries.

More U.S. billionaires are starting to give away their fortunes even before they reach middle age, according to the study.

Three of the five top philanthropists last year were couples under 40. “Drawn to the possibility of influencing social issues for decades to come, the young and super-rich are turning philanthropy into a newlywed activity instead of a deathbed one,” the report said.

It said some big donors were increasingly trying to support local issues and give to groups to which their names were not attached. Community foundations, for example, won eight gifts totaling more than $1 billion from top donors last year. That was more than in The Chronicle’s previous 10 lists put together.

Concerns about state budget crises also prompted some of 2012’s biggest gifts. With government-supported institutions losing state money, more donors seemed to be trying to fill the gaps.

Following are the top 10 ultrawealthy donors on The Chronicle’s 2013 Philanthropy 50.

Sheldon Adelson (Photo: AP)10. David Gundlach (deceased), founder of Hastings Direct, an auto insurance company  

Total given: $140 million (bequest)

State: California

Source of wealth: Insurance

Beneficiary: Elkhart County Community Foundation

9. Sheldon Adelson, chairman of Las Vegas Sands Corp., a developer of resorts, and Miriam Adelson, physician

Total given: $143 million

Age: 79, 66

State: Nevada

Source of wealth: Hotels

Top beneficiaries: Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Medical Research Foundation and the Adelson Family Foundation

Carl Icahn. (Photo: AP)8. Carl Icahn, financier 

Total given: $150 million

Age: 76

State: New York

Source of wealth: Investments

Beneficiary: Mount Sinai School of Medicine

7. Fred Fields (deceased), former owner and CEO of Coe Manufacturing Co.

Total given: $191.5 million (bequest)

State: California

Source of wealth: Manufacturing

Top Beneficiary: Oregon Community Foundation

Mortimer Zuckerman (Photo: AP)6. Mortimer Zuckerman, co-founder of Boston Properties; chairman and editor in chief of U.S. News and World Report; publisher of the New York Daily News 

Total given: $200 million

Age: 65

State: New York

Source of wealth: Media and entertainment, real estate

Beneficiary: Columbia University

5. Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, and Anne Wojcicki, a biotechnology analyst and co-founder of 23andME, a genetic-testing company

Total given: $222.9 million

State: California

Age: Both 39

Source of wealth: Technology

Top Beneficiary: Brin Wojcicki Foundation

Paul Allen. (Photo: AP)4. Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft 

Total given: $309.1 million

Age: 60

State: Washington

Source of wealth: Technology

Top beneficiary: Allen Institute for Brain Science

3. John Arnold, founder of Centaurus Energy, a hedge fund, and Laura Arnold

Total given: $423.4 million

Age: 38, 39

State: Texas

Source of wealth: Finance

Top beneficiary: Laura and John Arnold Foundation

Warren Buffett (Photo: AP)2. Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of Facebook, and his wife, Priscilla Chan, a pediatrician 

Total given: $498.8 million

Age: 28,27

State: California

Source of wealth: Technology

Beneficiary: Silicon Valley Community Foundation

1. Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway

Total given: $3.1 billion

Age: 82

State: Nebraska

Source of wealth: Investments

Top beneficiaries: Howard G. Buffett Foundation, NoVo Foundation and the Sherwood Foundation


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