Giving by Top Fifty U.S. Donors Fell 20 Percent in 2016

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.

Maria Di Mento, Drew Lindsay. "Philanthropy 50: Nike Mogul Tops Chart While Tech Giants Flex Charity Muscle." Chronicle of Philanthropy 02/07/2017. "Philanthropy 50." Chronicle of Philanthropy 02/07/2017.