The 14th annual Philanthropy 50, The Chronicle’s list of America’s most generous donors, is based on gifts and pledges of cash and stock to nonprofit organizations.
Although The Chronicle sought to find all information about large donations made by individuals in 2013, not all philanthropists publicly disclose details about their giving, and they are not legally required to do so.
Gifts that donors made from their family foundations were not counted, to avoid including them twice: when the donor gave the money to the foundation and when he or she chose a beneficiary for the money.
The Chronicle counted only those donations that philanthropists made to organizations with charity or foundation status under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Service Code.
The list does not include payments that donors made on pledges announced in previous years, to avoid counting the same gifts twice.
Paying Off Pledges
Some of America’s biggest charitable donors don’t appear on the current Philanthropy 50 even though they were still writing big checks to charity. That’s not because these philanthropists aren’t giving. The Chronicle’s rankings are based on new commitments donors made to their foundations and to other nonprofits in 2013 and do not count payments on past pledges of foundation grants.
Two donors fulfilled big commitments last year, and one is a year away from paying off a large pledge:
- Bill and Melinda Gates gave their foundation slightly more than $181.3-million last year, but the money went to pay off a pledge of approximately $3.3-billion the couple made in 2004. The Gateses have now given a total of nearly $3.5-billion toward that commitment, more than was originally pledged.
- Ted Turner paid $50-million last year to the United Nations Foundation and the Better World Fund, making the donation through his Turner Global Foundation. The grant was the second-to-last payment toward a $1-billion pledge the philanthropist made in 1997 to establish those two charities. Mr. Turner has $33.9-million to go, which he plans to pay off in 2014, according to a spokesman.
Warren Buffett, chairman of the holding company Berkshire Hathaway, is also paying off a previous multibillion-dollar pledge, but the 83-year-old has a way to go before he makes his last payment.
In 2006, he pledged shares of Berkshire Hathaway stock valued at more than $30-billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and has been making annual payments toward that commitment ever since.
In 2013, he gave 17,458,431 shares of Berkshire Hathaway class “B” stock, valued at slightly more than $2-billion, toward the pledge. To date, Mr. Buffett has given the foundation more than $13-billion.
Last year, Mr. Buffett also made payments toward additional commitments he had made in 2006.
He gave 1,745,843 shares of the stock, valued at $200.8-million, to the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, which is named for his first wife. He promised to give about $3.6-billion to his late wife’s foundation, and so far has contributed approximately $2.5-billion.
In addition, he gave 1,222,085 shares, worth more than $140.5-million, to the foundations of each of his three children.
The Howard G. Buffett Foundation gives money to agricultural development, clean-water projects, and programs working to fight poverty.
The NoVo Foundation, co-founded by Peter Buffett and his wife, Jennifer, seeks to improve the well-being of girls and women globally and supports economic and education programs.
The Sherwood Foundation, founded by daughter Susan Buffett, supports social-justice and early-childhood education.
Warren Buffett has promised to give a total of about $1.3-billion apiece to those three foundations. To date, he has given about $523-million to each of his children’s foundations.
The Philanthropy 50 report of 2013 was compiled by Maria Di Mento, with assistance from Caroline Bermudez.