Three gifts of $1 billion or more were made during 2017, helping to make it the strongest year for giving in the past decade, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports.
Contributions from three of the country's wealthiest tech entrepreneurs took the top spots in the Chronicle's annual list of the largest gifts, with the largest, $4.6 billion in Microsoft stock from Bill Gates, representing nearly half the combined value of the ten largest gifts ($10.2 billion) — a figure approximately $300 million larger than the total of the top ten gifts made in 2016. Four foundations — including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation — four universities, and one conservation group received the largest gifts made in 2017.
The Gateses' gift was followed by the nearly $1.9 billion contributed by Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan to the Chan Zuckerberg Foundation, the 501(c)(3) arm of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a limited-liability company established by the couple in 2015 as a vehicle for their philanthropic and public advocacy activities, and $1 billion from Michael and Susan Dell to their foundation. At least 90 percent of the $800 million bequest from the late Henry Hillman will benefit Pittsburgh-area nonprofits through the Hillman Family Foundations, while Florence Irving directed $600 million in new funding (on top of $100 million in previously announced giving) to enable Columbia University and NewYork-Presbyterian to recruit scientists, physician-scientists, and clinicians dedicated to developing innovations in cancer patient care.
Rounding out the top ten were gifts of $500 million from the Helen Diller Foundation to the University of California, San Francisco; $250 million from P. Roy and Diana Vagelos to Columbia University; $219.5 million from the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation to the University of Maryland — one of several large gifts made by the foundation in 2017; $200 million from Susan and Henry Samueli to the University of California, Irvine; and a parcel of California coastal ranchland valued at $165 million from Giving Pledgers Jack and Laura Dangermond to the Nature Conservancy.