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Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor, gave the most to charitable causes last year, followed by Nike co-founder Phil Knight and his wife, Penny, and Michael Dell and his wife, Susan, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s exclusive list of the 50 Americans who donated the largest sums to nonprofits last year.

Bloomberg contributed $3 billion to support the arts, education, environment, public health, and programs aimed at improving city governments around the world, while the Knights gave $1.24 billion, including support for the University of Oregon and an ambitious poverty-fighting effort in Portland, Oregon. The Dells contributed nearly $976 million to their charitable funds, which distribute gifts to a wide array of charities.

For the first time, Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates appear separately on the list – she at No. 9 and he at No. 16. And all three co-founders of Home Depot are on the list – Bernie Marcus at No. 10, Ken Langone at No. 12, and Arthur Blank at No. 21.

Together, the 50 donors on the list contributed a total of $11.9 billion to charity in 2023. The median amount they gave was $100 million.

While those numbers are sizable, not all of the nation’s wealthiest people appear on the list. Only 23 of the richest Americans on the Forbes 400 list donated enough to appear on the Philanthropy rankings.

“We still see the majority of wealth holders on the sideline,” says Renee Kaplan, CEO of Forward Global, which advises wealthy individuals on their giving. “More resources need to be unlocked.”

Among those who gave big – but are less well known – were:

– Franklin Antonio, an early employee of chipmaker Qualcomm, is No. 6. He bequeathed $400 million to the Summer Science Program and to the SETI Institute, which seeks to detect evidence of life elsewhere in the universe.

– Ohio investor Hugh Hoffman, at No. 11, left $231.7 million to the ALS Association, University of Cincinnati Foundation, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, Cincinnati Nature Center, Yale University, and other groups.

– Boston’s Tim Springer and Chafen Lu, academics and researchers, were early investors in Moderna. At No. 13 on the list, they contributed $210 million to the Institute for Protein Innovation, which shares its data with scientists for free.

– At No. 23, San Diego’s Jay Kahn worked in the clothing industry for many years and was an early investor in Price Club and Apple. He bequeathed $106 million to the San Diego Foundation.

While foundations created by the donors and colleges and universities were the biggest recipients of last year’s gifts, many donors supported a diverse range of causes that included:

– Researching Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases: The Lauder family, at No. 14, contributed $200 million to the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation. Recipients of Google co-founder Sergey Brin’s $67.3 million, No. 34, included the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

– Fighting antisemitism: Businessman and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, No. 24, committed $100 million to expand the work of the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism.

– Helping women and girls: Recipients of Lucia Woods Lindley’s $63 million in donations, No. 35, included the Ms. Foundation for Women and the Chicago Foundation for Women.

– Understanding artificial intelligence: At No. 36, David and Kathleen LaCross awarded $57 million to the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, which will support an extensive A.I. program. And, at No. 8, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife, Pam, awarded $264 million in donations, including a contribution to the AI Collaborative, a nonprofit that distributes funds to ensure A.I. advances the public interest.

The next wave of megadonors, people in their 40s, 50s, and 60s, has begun to emerge, signalling a changing of the guard in philanthropy. They are likely to dominate the next 20 to 30 years of major giving, and they’re different from their predecessors.

They’re less interested in giving huge donations to big institutions like universities and hospitals. Causes including the environment, social justice, and scientific research drive their giving: They want to create tangible change in the world.

The next generation is hands-on with their giving. Some are deeply analytical, like John and Laura Arnold (No. 5). John, who ran his own hedge fund, and Laura, a lawyer, look for policy areas, such as criminal justice and health care, that have been largely ignored and where big breakthroughs are possible – even if they take a decade or more.

“It became very clear to us that if we really wanted to address injustice as manifested in the educational system, we needed to really think about the systemic issues that led to that dysfunction outside of the educational system,” Laura Arnold says.

Wendy Schmidt and her husband, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, (No. 7) hope to change broken systems, especially when it comes to environmental problems like climate change.

Many next-generation donors’ vehicles for giving vary. They’re not wedded to having a traditional foundation. Some use donor-advised funds or a limited-liability company. They might use a 501(c)(4) to include political donations as part of a bigger strategy. Or a combination of approaches.

“Younger people coming into wealth that are under 50, the majority of them are not interested in big institutional philanthropy. They don’t even like the word philanthropist,” says Kaplan, the giving adviser. “They consider themselves change agents, social entrepreneurs, or community partners.”

Among the other findings from the report:

– When they start giving big: Four of the donors on the Philanthropy 50 are under 40. The youngest donor is 34-year-old Jeff Sobrato, a real-estate investor.

– Where they live: Fifteen top donors live in California, seven in New York, five in Florida, four in Texas, and three each in Virginia and Washington. Thirty-four states and the District of Columbia have no donors on the list.

– Where they give: Twenty recipients of donations from the largest donors are based in California, 12 in New York, 11 in Hawaii, seven in Ohio, five in Virginia, and four in Massachusetts.

– How they became wealthy: Donors with ties to the financial industry were most frequently on the list (10 donors with $2.2 billion in contributions); followed by those who earned fortunes in technology (nine donors with $2.6 billion in donations), and real estate (six donors with $397 million in contributions).

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