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Report: Facebook Founder Tops List of Big-Gift Givers

Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, donated company shares valued at $990 million to a community foundation.

By University Alliance on February 18, 2014
$100 Million Donors Club Gets Bigger

Nonprofit philanthropy among the nation’s wealthiest donors increased in 2013, including among individuals bestowing gifts of at least $100 million, according to a new report.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, topped last year’s list of big gift-givers, The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported. In December, the couple provided 18 million shares of Facebook stock to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation – a gift valued at $990 million at the time of the donation.

The foundation, which is based in Mountain View, California, awarded $292 million for nearly 10,200 grant opportunities in 2012, according to its website. Grant recipients were located in 29 countries.

Overall, there were 15 charitable gifts of $100 million or more in the United States in 2013, totaling $3.4 billion. That was up from 11 such gifts the previous year, The Chronicle’s database shows.

Of the 15 biggest donations publicly announced last year, a dozen were given to institutions of higher education, including a $500 million matching gift to the Oregon Health & Science University Foundation in Portland, Oregon, from Nike founder Phil Knight and his wife, Penelope. The Knights’ pledge was the second-largest gift in 2013, according to The Chronicle.

Additionally, Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, received a $350 million gift from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy also found that there were more than 850 fundraising gifts of more than $1 million each in 2013, totaling $9.6 billion. That represented an increase of more than 60% over the $6.1 billion given in 2012.

“People seem more optimistic about the economy, and certainly the strong stock market has propelled a lot of gifts,” Chronicle Editor Stacy Palmer told the Associated Press.

The University of Notre Dame in Indiana was among the institutions that received multimillion-dollar donations last year, including a $30 million gift from former Coca-Cola Co. executive Donald Keough and his wife, Marilyn, for construction of a building to house the university’s international institutes.

Notre Dame also received a $27 million donation from Matthew and Joyce Walsh that will help fund a new School of Architecture building. Matthew Walsh is a Notre Dame graduate and co-chairman of his family’s construction company.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported that the almost $1 billion gift from Zuckerberg and Chan represents the first time that the largest single donation has come from donors younger than 30 years old.

Although the couple also donated 18 million Facebook shares to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation in 2012, that gift was valued at the time at almost $500 million.

According to The Chronicle’s statistics on nonprofit resources, Warren Buffett was the biggest gift-giver that year, with three single donations of $1 billion each.

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