Gates’ $ 15 billion, French Gates topped 2021’s biggest gift list


It’s been a healthy year for big donations to charitable causes in 2021, a year that saw one of the largest multi-billion dollar contributions in more than a decade, according to a Chronicle of Philanthropy count.

Powerful philanthropists Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates announced in May they are divorcing, then donated $ 15 billion to their foundation in July. The money will bolster its endowment and support the donor’s work in global health, development, policy and advocacy, and education in the United States going forward.

The donation brought the donor’s endowment to around $ 65 billion and was the Gates’ largest injection of money into the foundation since 2000, when they transferred Microsoft shares then valued at $ 20 million.

When announcing this year’s donation, the two philanthropists indicated that they planned to continue running the foundation together for the time being, but announced through the foundation that if after two years one d ‘them decides not to work together, French Gates will resign as co-chair and trustee.

Regardless, philanthropists have made it clear in two new Giving Pledge letters that they both intend to continue to give big in the years to come.

French Gates wrote that she would continue to support efforts to alleviate poverty and “advance equality for women and girls and other marginalized groups.” Gates wrote in his letter Giving Pledge that the work of the foundation will continue to be his “top philanthropic priority” and that he plans to increase his donations in other areas like “climate change mitigation and fight against Alzheimer’s disease “.

Nonprofits that focus on these causes are likely to reap great rewards, given that Bill Gates has an estimated net worth of about $ 137 billion and Melinda French Gates’ net worth of $ 6 billion.

Meanwhile, Nike co-founder Phil Knight and his wife, Penny’s, have contributed $ 500 million to the University of Oregon, tied for second on the list. The donation will be used to expand the Phil and Penny Knight campus to accelerate scientific impact and follows a $ 500 million donation the Knights made to launch the science campus in 2016. The Knight Campus aims to accelerate the process transformation of new scientific discoveries in medical sciences. treatments and other developments to improve people’s lives.

Phil Knight, with a net worth of around $ 60 billion, graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the university in 1959. The couple gave the university a total of at least $ 1.6 billion nowadays.

Also tied for No.2 is a $ 500 million challenge pledge that financier George Soros made through his Open Society Foundations to Bard College for his endowment. The pledge aims to persuade other donors to support the college’s efforts to raise $ 1 billion over the next five years.

College officials announced in April that the pledge had already helped them raise $ 250 million from other donors. Soros, whose net worth is estimated at $ 8.6 billion, founded Soros Fund Management, a New York-based company that manages hedge funds.

Next on the list is a $ 480 million donation to Northwestern University from Patrick Ryan, founder of Ryan Specialty Group, an insurance services company, and his wife, Shirley. The Ryans, with a net worth of nearly $ 8 billion, have donated the money to their alma mater for a variety of programs.

The money will support education and research efforts in applied microeconomics, business, digital medicine, global health, neuroscience, and translational research programs at the university’s Feinberg School of Medicine. Part of the donation will also be used to finance construction projects.

The Chronicle’s annual Top 10 list of largest donations announced by individuals or their foundations totaled more than $ 18.1 billion in 2021. (The 2021 list actually includes 11 equal donations.) the 2021 list mainly went to well-established institutions. . Eight of the 11 gifts come from billionaires with a combined wealth of $ 426.3 billion.

The Chronicle’s annual ranking is based on the 10 biggest giveaways publicly announced. The count does not include contributions of works of art or gifts from anonymous donors. In February, the Chronicle will unveil its annual ranking of the 50 largest donors, a list based on the total contributions of individuals in 2021 rather than single donations.

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The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s 10 Biggest Giveaways List

1. Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, and Melinda French Gates, founder of Pivotal Ventures, an investment firm, gave $ 15 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as an endowment

2. (tie) Philip Knight, co-founder of Nike, and his wife, Penny, donated $ 500 million to the University of Oregon to expand the Phil and Penny Knight campus to accelerate scientific impact

2. (tied) George Soros, President of Soros Fund Management, through his Open Society Foundations, donated $ 500 million to Bard College as an endowment

4. Patrick Ryan, founder of Ryan Specialty Group, an insurance services company, and his wife, Shirley, donated $ 480 million to Northwestern University for various programs

5. Denny Sanford, president of United National Corporation Sanford Health, donated $ 350 million to create a virtual care hospital

6. Denny Sanford, president of the United National Corporation Sanford Health, donated $ 300 million for higher medical education and to expand a sports complex

7. William Goodwin Jr., a real estate developer, his wife Alice and their late son Hunter donated $ 250 million to create Break Through Cancer, a foundation that will support cancer research

8. Joe Tsai, co-founder of Alibaba Group, and Clara Wu Tsai, co-owner of professional sports teams, through their Joe and Clara Tsai foundation, donated $ 220 million to create the Wu Tsai Human Performance Alliance , a non-profit medical research association.

9. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, donated $ 200 million to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum for the renovation of an educational center and museum

10. Gerald Chan, co-founder of Morningside Group, an investment firm, through his Morningside Foundation, has donated $ 175 million to the University of Massachusetts Chan School of Medicine for endowment purposes.

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This article was provided to The Associated Press by the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Maria Di Mento is a writer for the Chronicle. Email: [email protected] The AP and The Chronicle receive support from the Lilly Endowment for coverage of philanthropy and nonprofit organizations. The AP and the Chronicle are solely responsible for all content. For all of AP’s philanthropic coverage, visit https://apnews.com/hub/philanthropy.


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