February 2017

Volume 29, Issue 04

Cover Story

Phil Knight Tops Chronicle’s List of Biggest Donors of 2016

The Nike co-founder and veteran philanthropist headlines our annual ranking, while self-made women and tech moguls herald change in the giving ranks.

Colleges Get Unusually Large Share of Contributions

Nearly half of giving by the country's biggest donors went to higher education, with $1 of every $5 benefiting elite universities with multibillion-dollar endowments.

Philanthropist Shows Her Love of Nature by Locking Up Land

Roxanne Quimby once lived in a shack without electricity or running water to be closer to the outdoors. After amassing a fortune as a co-founder of Burt’s Bees, she found a much grander way to honor nature.

Wealthy Financier Helps Build Momentum for Black Philanthropy

Robert Smith, Carnegie Hall’s first African-American board chair, is making a splash with his giving.

Big Philanthropists Increasingly Face Scrutiny and Criticism

Praise for megadonors like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and David Rubenstein is now tinged with questions about whether their good works are really good for society.

John Arnold Defends His Philanthropy, Big Gifts, and Mark Zuckerberg

"It is easier to criticize a personality than an organization," Mr. Arnold says in an interview with The Chronicle, in which he also explains his support for a controversial Baltimore surveillance program.

Philanthropy 50: Where They Live, Where They Give, and More

We break down our ranking by geography, age, and source of wealth and examine a decade of big-donor giving.

How The Chronicle Compiled Its List of the Top 50 Donors

Inside the methodology for tallying which philanthropists gave away the most in in 2016.

How Many Forbes 400 Billionaires Gave Big in 2016?

The number who made the Philanthropy 50 may surprise you. Plus: We list the Giving Pledge members who stepped up last year.


With Anti-Trump Windfall, Nonprofits Are Digging In for a Fight

Nonprofits like the Natural Resources Defense Council are hiring lawyers setting up hotlines, beefing up staff, recruiting more volunteers, launching defense funds, and more.


Boxing Nonprofit Trains Young Champs In and Out of the Ring

Along with winning medals at the Olympics and other international competitions, veterans of the Alexandria Boxing Club serve as role models for teens in and around Washington, D.C.

Leaders Must Listen to Solve Big Problems, Author Says

The corporate-style leadership increasingly in vogue in philanthropy is ill-suited for tackling complex social issues, the author of a forthcoming book argues.

ACLU’s Tough Talk on Trump Leads to Huge Fundraising Success

Time will tell if the American Civil Liberties Union’s aggressive stance will continue to resonate with donors.

Girl Scouts’ 12 Weeks of Paid Parental Leave Is Rarity Among Nonprofits

The organization draws strong praise for its benefit to new mothers and fathers, but nonprofits in general still lag far behind the corporate world.

Flint Water Crisis Proves Mettle of New Foundation Leader

Under the leadership of 37-year-old President Ridgway White, the Mott Foundation provided money to deal with the city’s unsafe water even before a state of emergency had been declared.

New Book on Joan Kroc Tells of Her Sometimes Whimsical Philanthropy

The donor who made a $1.5 billion bequest to the Salvation Army and gave $225 million to NPR preferred handing out checks to working under the constraints of a foundation.

How an Arts Nonprofit Developed a Succession Plan

A San Francisco dance organization that prepared for future transitions shares its plan as a model for others.

Thank-You Notes That Look Handwritten Inspire Donors to Give Again

How one nonprofit brought back 440 lapsed donors and boosted revenue after taking a new approach to acknowledgments.

6 Steps to Attracting More Diverse Donors

Here’s how — and why — you should build an inclusive fundraising strategy and broaden your base of support.


Opinion: How Philanthropy Can Help Usher in the Quantum Age

As quantum theory takes root in the social as well as the physical sciences, foundations should invest in efforts to better our grasp of this powerful idea and its potential for both good and ill.

Opinion: Why Philanthropy Is Not a Profession

The values and passions that motivate donors and grant makers are tough to teach and codify.

Opinion: Philanthropy’s Preoccupation With Airing Failures Is a Mixed Blessing

Too often donors seem to forget that real people and communities were hurt as grant makers took approaches that didn’t work out.