News and analysis
December 04, 2014

Big Gifts Are Surging in 2014, Chronicle Tally Finds

The donation of $100-million to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Wednesday was the 17th contribution of that amount or more made this year.

Fred Eshelman, who made his fortune developing medications, made the gift to the institution’s pharmacy school.

All signs are strong that 2014 will be a robust year for gifts from the wealthy: Already contributions of $50-million or more grew by more than $800-million, according to a Chronicle tally of donations made by this point in both 2013 and 2014, including some $4.9-billion in gifts of $50-million or more.

The surge in the dollar figure is the result of bigger gifts, not more of them: Just 40 contributions of $50-million or more have been made this year, compared with 42 in 2013.

For example, rich Americans announced three donations of $500-million or more this year, compared with just one last year.

This year, Ted Stanley, a businessman, pledged $650-million for mental-health research, while David Murdock, who owns the Dole Food Company, pledged $500-million to a science institute that bears his name; and Nicholas and Jill Woodman, founders of the GoPro camera company, gave that amount to a community foundation.

The Chronicle keeps a free database of all gifts of $1-million or more. To report new donations, send a message to

Send an e-mail to Maria Di Mento.