Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Ted Turner, are conspicuously absent from the just released, Philanthropy 50, a list of the fifty most generous Americans published by Philanthropy.com. However, the aforementioned billionaires did not exhibit totally scrooge-like behavior in 2011.
Some of America’s biggest charitable donors don’t appear on the current Philanthropy 50 even though they were still writing big checks to charity. The list doesn’t include people who are paying off pledges made in previous years, and in 2011 several of the nation’s big donors were busy making payments, not new commitments. Among those philanthropists are Warren E. Buffett, Bill and Melinda Gates, and Ted Turner.
Buffett honored a prior pledge (2006) to donate shares of his Berkshire Hathaway to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The value of the shares that Buffett donated in 2011 was nearly $1.5 billion.
In 2004 Bill and Melinda Gates pledged $3.3 billion to their foundation. In 2011 they contributed $67.9 million. According to Philanthropy.com “The couple has paid a total of more than $2.8-billion toward their 2004 commitment and have about $500-million remaining to pay on that pledge.”
Philanthropy.com also reported that Ted Turner continues to make good on his previous pledge.
Another big donor, Mr. Turner, gave $50-million to the United Nations Foundation and the Better World Fund in 2011. Mr. Turner made the donation through his Turner Global Foundation, which was established in 2004. The grant was payment toward a $1-billion pledge the philanthropist made in 1997 to establish the United Nations Foundation and the Better World Fund.
To date, the media mogul has paid slightly more than $900-million toward the pledge.
The late Margaret A. Cargill topped the list with a contribution valued at close to $6 billion. Click here to read how the Cargill Corp.’s sale of its huge position in Fertilizer giant Mosaic Corp. resulted in a windfall for Ms. Cargill’s charities.
The late William S. Dietrich II was “runner-up” on Philanthropy.com’s list. Dietrich, who died in October of 2011, donated about a $500 million to various causes, the largest of which was Carnegie Mellon University.
Among the living, Microsoft co-founder and Seattle sports franchise owner, Paul Allen, was the most generous American. Allen reached into his deep pockets for $372.6 million in new donations. Most of his charitable giving went to The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, which supports arts and culture.
George Soros took the fourth slot. Some would argue that the $335 million Soros donatated to the Open Society Foundations is anything but a charitable contribution. Open Society describes itself as follows
The Open Society Institute works to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens. To achieve its mission, OSI seeks to shape public policies that assure greater fairness in political, legal, and economic systems and safeguard fundamental rights. On a local level, OSI implements a range of initiatives to advance justice, education, public health, and independent media. At the same time, OSI builds alliances across borders and continents on issues such as corruption and freedom of information. OSI places a high priority on protecting and improving the lives of people in marginalized communities.
However, Ron Arnold who is Executive Vice-President of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, views Open Society somewhat differently. He publishes a blog called Undueinfluence.com. Arnold wrote this about Soros’s Open Society
A global network of dozens of Soros entities that have paid millions to overthrow governments in the Soviet Union, Serbia, Georgia, and the United States. The American agenda of Soros foundations has little system and is more a hodge-podge of Soros’ personal interests, which tend to be leftist provocations more than steady programs. His personal attitudes about America are very negative and he regards capitalism to be the major threat to the world, as he once regarded communism to be. Soros makes no secret of his beliefs: he has written several books including “The Bubble of American Supremacy” and “Reforming Global Capitalism.” The man who made it big because of America and capitalism now hates both and seeks to destroy them.
New York mayor Michael Bloomberg rounds out the list of the five most generous Americans. As might be expected of a successful politician,
Hizzoner’s gifts were considerably less controversial than Mr. Soros’s. According to Philanthropy.com
Mr. Bloomberg, 69, gave a total of nearly $311.3-million to 1,185 nonprofits that support the arts, human services, public affairs, and other causes.
The famous, or infamous (depending on your point of view) Koch Brothers, Charles and David, failed to make this year’s Philanthropy 50. Their less famous (and much less wealthy) brother William was ranked #23. Charles and David Koch are ranked by Forbes as the 4th and 5th richest Americans, with each having a net worth of $25 billion. Black sheep William Koch is only worth $4 billion. Philanthrophy.com also notes that David Koch (William’s twin brother) has made their list four times since 2006.
The Walmart Waltons, Christy, Jim and Alice, who are ranked 6th, 9th and 10th on The Forbes List, with a combined net worth of $66 billion; also failed to make The Philanthropy 50.
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