Buffett Tops 2014 Forbes Ranking of Biggest U.S. Givers

Warren Buffett, who donated Berkshire Hathaway shares worth $2.1 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, tops the list of U.S. philanthropists who gave the most in 2014, Forbes reports.

With a collective net worth of more than $377 billion, the top ten givers on the Forbes list donated a total of $7.1 billion to charity in 2014. Second on the list behind Buffett were Bill and Melinda Gates, with $1.3 billion in giving, followed by George Soros ($733 million), Michael R. Bloomberg ($462 million), Charles F. Feeney ($434 million), the Walton family ($375 million), James and Marilyn Simons ($331 million), Hansjörg Wyss ($228 million), Gordon and Betty Moore ($220 million), and Eli and Edythe Broad ($202 million). Conducted in partnership with the Philanthropic Research Institute, a unit of Shook Research, the analysis of the top fifty donors in the U.S. ranked their giving by dollars paid out and does not include as-yet-unfulfilled pledges or funds set aside for charity. Giving to the donors' own family foundations and/or donor-advised funds also was excluded from the calculation.

While Gates, Buffett, Bloomberg, and Jim Walton are among the ten richest Americans on the 2015 Forbes 400 list, their cumulative giving to date as a percentage of net worth ranges widely, from 4 percent ($5.3 billion) for the Walton family to 10 percent ($3.7 billion) for Bloomberg, 37 percent ($22.7 billion) for Buffett, and 41 percent ($31.5 billion) for the Gateses. Feeney, who no longer is a billionaire, has donated an estimated $7 billion to charitable causes during his lifetime. Eight of the top ten givers in 2014 — all except the Walton family and George Soros — have signed on to the Giving Pledge, committing to give away at least half their wealth to charitable causes.

"We're starting to see a turn where people want to enjoy giving while they're still alive and have a say in it and see the difference," said Philanthropic Research Institute founder R.J. Shook.

Katia Savchuk. "America's Top 10 Givers of 2014." Forbes 10/01/2015. "America's 50 Top Givers." Forbes 10/01/2015.