The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s annual list of the 10 largest philanthropic gifts announced by individuals or their foundations totaled nearly $9.3 billion in 2022. Contributions went to large, established foundations, three of them private foundations and three universities for supporting environmental sustainability, children’s mental health and stem cell research. Other gifts supported cancer research and treatment, housing efforts, youth programs, and reproductive health.
Two of the gifts exceeded $1 billion, and six of the eight donors (one donor made three gifts) are multi-billionaires. The combined net worth of these six sponsors is just over $325 billion.
Topping the list is Bill Gates, who gave $5 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support the donor’s work in global health, development, policy and advocacy, and education in the US. Gates, whose net worth is estimated at $104 billion, drew attention in July when he announced he was giving $20 billion to the foundation he runs with his ex-wife, Melinda France Gates. But foundation officials confirmed in December that three-quarters of that $20 billion went toward paying off the $15 billion he and French Gates had pledged in July 2021. The remaining $5 billion was a new injection into institution.
Ann and John Doerr came in second with a $1.1 billion donation they are giving through the Benificus Foundation to Stanford University to launch the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability, an effort to address the most pressing climate and sustainability challenges in the world. The new school will focus on eight areas of scholarship: climate change, earth and planetary sciences, energy technology, sustainable cities, natural environment, food and water security, human society and behavior, and human health and environment.
The new school will house several academic departments and interdisciplinary institutes. It will also host a “sustainability accelerator,” which, among other efforts, will award grants to researchers and others to develop new technologies in environmental sustainability and related fields, promote new policies, and support partnerships.
John Doerr is a venture capitalist who made his mark and much of his fortune as an early backer of Silicon Valley tech giants like Sun Microsystems, Amazon and Google. Today he is the chairman of the investment firm Kleiner Perkins and his fortune amounts to a little more than 9 billion dollars.
In third place are Jackie and Mike Bezos, the mother and stepfather of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. The couple gave the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center $710.5 million to build 36 research labs and an additional major research facility. The grant will also support the cancer center’s clinical trials and immunotherapy research over the next 10 years.
The pair have been fairly low-profile philanthropists until recently. However, Jackie Bezos has been closely involved in many non-profit projects over the years. He created the Bezos Scholars Program at the Aspen Institute, the Aspen Challenge, and Students Rebuild, all of which are educational programs for various age groups. Mike Bezos spent 32 years working as an engineer and manager at oil and gas giant Exxon Mobil before retiring and turning his attention to the couple’s offering.
The gifts from the Doerrs and the Bezoses were followed by one from Warren Buffett. The revered 92-year-old investor gave stock worth nearly $474.3 million to the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, an endowment Warren Buffett established in 1964 to manage the family’s charitable giving later renamed for his first wife, who died in 2004 .The foundation supports women’s reproductive health and provides scholarships for students in Nebraska, where the foundation is located.
A spokesman for Buffett confirmed that the gift was a special one-time contribution that Buffett decided to make in late November and not one of the annual donations he makes to the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation and several other donors, which are payments of multibillion-dollar pledges. which announced in 2006.
The late Ruth DeYoung Kohler II comes in fifth on the list. The Kohler heiress, who died in 2020 at age 79, left a $440 million bequest to establish the Ruth Foundation for the Arts, a Milwaukee-based grantmaker dedicated to supporting visual and performing arts groups across the country . It plans to award about $20 million annually. Kohler was an ardent supporter of the arts and directed the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, from 1972 to 2016.
Kohler II is followed by MacKenzie Scott, the novelist and co-founder of Amazon, who gave $436 million to Habitat for Humanity International. The gift was unrestricted, as was the case with most of Scott’s gifts. When Habitat for Humanity officials announced the gift in March, they said they plan to use the money to address the global housing crisis and advocate for systemwide changes to increase equitable access to affordable housing for all.
Two additional gifts from Scott — $281 million to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and $275 million to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America — also made the list.
The Chronicle’s annual ranking is based on the 10 largest publicly announced gifts. The tally does not include contributions of artwork or gifts from anonymous donors. In February, the Chronicle will unveil its annual ranking of the 50 largest donors, a list based on individuals’ total contributions in 2022 rather than individual gifts.
This article was provided to The Associated Press by the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Maria Di Mento is a senior reporter at the Chronicle. Email: [email protected] The AP and Chronicle receive support from the Lilly Endowment for coverage of charitable and nonprofit organizations. The AP and Chronicle are solely responsible for all content. For all of AP’s philanthropy coverage, visit https://apnews.com/hub/philanthropy.