Largest Gifts in 2012 Fall Short of 2011 Levels

After showing signs of rebounding in 2011, charitable giving by America's billionaires slowed in 2012, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports.

While the fifteen largest gifts announced by U.S. philanthropists in 2012 — including five ties for the ten largest — totaled nearly $5.1 billion, $3 billion of the total was accounted for by Warren Buffett's gifts of Berkshire Hathaway stock to the foundations run by his three children. Without those gifts, the 2012 total would have been $2.1 billion — far short of the $2.6 billion tallied in 2011.

The second largest gift after Buffett's was Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg's commitment of Facebook stock worth an estimated $500 million to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. Thirteen of the largest commitments announced in 2012 (including Buffett's) were for at least $100 million, three more than in 2011 and seven more than in 2010. The total for the largest gifts, however, has yet to recover from the effects of the recession, falling from $8 billion in 2008 — half of that from a $4.5 billion bequest from inventor James LeVoy Sorenson — to $2.7 billion in 2009 and $1.4 billion in 2010.

At the same time, the Chronicle reported that the total of gifts of at least $1 million increased to $6.1 billion in 2012, up from $5.4 billion in 2011.

For a complete list of the largest gifts made by individuals in 2012, visit the Chronicle of Philanthropy Web site.

Maria Di Mento. "America's Wealthiest Donors Slow Their Giving." Chronicle of Philanthropy 01/01/2013.