Charitable giving by the fifty biggest donors in the United States fell some 20 percent in 2016, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports.
Giving by the Chronicle's Philanthropy 50 totaled $5.6 billion in 2016, down from nearly $7 billion in 2015 and $10.2 billion in 2014 — and the lowest level since 2010. Factors behind the drop, according to the Chronicle, include a relative lack of large bequests, a volatile stock market, and the many distractions of the presidential campaign.
Topping the rankings for the first time were Nike co-founder Phil Knight and his wife, Penny, who gave a total of $900 million — $500 million to the University of Oregon and $400 million to Stanford University. Rounding out the top five were Michael R. Bloomberg ($600.1 million); Howard and Lottie Marcus ($400 million bequest), friends of and early investors with Warren Buffett; Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen ($295 million); and former hedge-fund manager John Arnold and his wife, Laura ($284 million). In 2015, the late Richard Mellon Scaife and the late John L. Santikos, with bequests totaling $758.9 million and $605 million, respectively, ranked first and second on the Chronicle's list.
The 2016 rankings included four self-made female millionaires, all of whom are appearing on the list for the first time. They are Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (No. 11, $107.2 million), Burt's Bees co-founder Roxanne Quimby (No. 17, $94 million), real-estate investor Suzanne Dworak-Peck (No. 24, $60 million), and Elaine Wynn (tied for No. 29, $50 million), the ex-wife and partner of hotel and casino mogul Steve Wynn. Also debuting on the list was private equity executive Robert F. Smith (No. 35, $42.5 million), whose profile as a philanthropist rose in 2016 with his election to chair the board of Carnegie Hall and a $20 million gift to the National Museum of African American History and Culture.