Charitable donations can come in any size. They don't have to be huge to be worth while. Even a very small donation can mean so much to an individual who doesn't have a lot. Many companies have annual food drives, charity events, and clothing drives. There are also many celebrities out there who have donated a bundle to charity, using their fame and clout to sponsor big events that urge other to give.
There are so many different ways that people give in this world, and it is great to see that the wealthy are not averse to offering up large sums in the interest of the greater good of the world. Here, we will go through some of the biggest charitable donations of all time.
For starters, some of the numbers related to charitable giving for the year 2012: Charitable giving rose for the third year in a row, with total donations of $316.23 billion. The amount donated by individuals was $223 billion, worth about two thirds of the donations in 2012. Corporate donations, on the other hand, only account for about 10 percent of money given. The balance is covered by churches and religious groups, who are still big players in the donations game.
As for where this money went, we can see that about half of those donations went to schools, museums, art programs, and universities. Another huge piece of these donations goes to free clinics. Free clinics in the United States provide care and services for 1.8 million individuals annually, accounting for 3.5 million dental and medical visits.
Donors can make a more significant impact by donating directly to a well-researched and well known charity rather than purchasing a charity-affiliated product. The average American consumer spends about $800 on gifts during the holiday season. When a poll was done, about 2 out of every 3 individuals said that they would rather focus on giving to charities rather than focusing on the consumerism surrounding gifts.
Of course, those habits are unlikely to change, and so much of the money donated by individuals comes from the ultra rich, with donations from billionaires reaching rates unheard of since the economy fell through. When you have money to give away, like the individuals behind the largest charitable donations in American history, apparently you do part with some of it.
Here is the list of the top 10 largest charitable donations in American history.
10 2002: $1 Billion - Walter Annenberg
The Estate of Walter Annenberg donated $1 billion to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2002. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is located in New York City, and is the largest museum in the United States. It possesses one of the best art collections, comprising more than two million pieces. The Museum was founded in 1870 by a group of American citizens made up of businessmen, financiers, artists, and thinkers, who came together with the common dream of opening a museum to bring art to the American people.
9 2000: $1.1 Billion - Bill Daniels
The Estate of Bill Daniels donated $1.1 billion to the Daniels Fund in 2000. Bill Daniels made his fortune in television, finding innovative ways to deliver cable television to remote areas. He was very well known for giving to the poor and helping those who were truly in need of it, and spent his last years carefully defining his goals for the Daniels Fund, which provides scholarships, and grants to nonprofit organizations in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Wyoming.
8 2001: $1.1 Billion - Jim and Virginia Stowers
$1.1 billion was donated to the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in 2001 by Jim and Virginia Stowers. The Institute was founded by, naturally, Jim and Virginia Stowers. Both are cancer survivors and founders of American Century Investments. Over the next 10 years, the couple donated over $2 billion to the Institute. The Institute is classified as non-profit and a charitable organization.
7 2006: $1.3 Billion - Herbert and Marion Sandler
Herbert and Marion Sandler donated $1.3 Billion to the Sandler Foundation in 2006. They helped found the Center for Responsible Lending, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting predatory mortgage lending, payday loans, and other products designed to prey on consumers. They have helped create new legislation that has stopped many of the old practices related to predatory lending. The Sandlers also support organizations involved in medical research, the environment, human rights, and civil liberties.
6 2004: $1.5 Billion Joan B. Kroc
The estate of Joan B. Kroc donated $1.5 billion to the Salvation Army in 2004. Joan B. Kroc gained her fortune from her famous marriage to Ray Kroc, the man that made McDonald's into the international cultural juggernaut it is today. Their charity of choice, The Salvation Army, is an international Christian organization organized in a quasi-military fashion. It has a presence in 126 countries, and runs charity shops, shelters, and provides disaster relief and humanitarian aid to developing countries.
5 1999: $1.65 Billion - David and Lucille Packard
David and Lucille Packard donated $1.65 billion to the Packard Humanities Institute in 1999. Established in 1987, the Packard Humanities Institute is a nonprofit foundation that funds projects aimed at conservation in the fields of archaeology, music and film preservation, and historic conservation, as well as Greek epigraphy. The group's ultimate aim is to create tools for basic research in the Humanities. The strides that they have made in these fields of education have been unmatched by anyone to date.
4 $2000: 5 Billion - Gordon and Betty Moore
Another case of billionaires donating to their own charities, but it still counts. Gordon and Betty Moore donated $5 billion to the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation in 2000. The foundation is focused on outcome-based projects that are meant to improve quality of life for future generations. They focus on large scale, science-based incentives and encourage collaboration in pursuit of the best results. The foundation was established by Gordon Moore and his wife Betty in September of 2000.
3 2001: $6 Billion - William Hewlett
The trend continues, with another multi-billion dollar donation to an individual's own charity. $6 billion was donated in 2001 to the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation by the Estate of William Hewlett. The foundation was established by William Hewlett and his wife Flora in 1966. It awards grants to support educational and cultural institutions, as well as to advance certain social and environmental issues. At this time, it is one of the largest charities, with assets of over $7 billion.
2 1999: $11 Billion - Bill Gates
The amount of $11 billion was donated by Bill Gates to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation during 1999. The organization is the largest private charitable foundation in the world, founded by none other than Bill and Melinda Gates. The foundation is based in Seattle and controlled by Bill and Melinda Gates, and famous stock trader and investor, Warren Buffett. It focuses on solving medical and social issues in developing countries, with work being done to pursue malaria eradication, AIDS awareness and prevention, and alternative nuclear power sources.
1 2006: $30 Billion - Warren Buffet
The staggering amount of $30 billion was donated by none other than stock trader Warren Buffett. In 2006, he donated this money to the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation in the form of Berkshire Hathaway shares. The donation was given in stock, so the price of this donation could go up or down as the years pass. Buffets donation came in the form of yearly contributions, with three conditions: Bill and Melinda must be alive and involved in the charity's administration, the foundation must continue to operate and qualify as a charity, and each year it must give away an amount equal to the previous year’s Berkshire gift.
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