The largest U.S. charitable contributions of 2001.

Analysis of the year's biggest philanthropists.
Feb. 4 2002 6:00 PM

The 2001 Slate 60: Introduction

The 60 largest American charitable contributions of 2001.

For a year filled with such death and its requisite heartbreak, it seems fitting that the recently passed would make their presence felt in such strong numbers in "The 2001 Slate 60," the list of the country's most-generous philanthropists. This year's Slate 60 includes 20 bequests, a third of the list and nearly double the number in 2000.

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Leading the bequest category is John D. Hollingsworth (No. 4), who died at 83 and left an estimated $400 million gift to be shared among Furman University, the Greenville, S.C., YMCA, and other charities. No. 8, Lucille Stewart Beeson, dead at 95, left $161 million to organizations in her hometown of Birmingham, Ala., including Samford University, the Jimmy Hale Mission, and other groups. Henry Melville Fuller, 87, coming in at No. 11, who made his fortune in the finance world, left the bulk of his $89.68 million bequest to several New Hampshire arts organizations. Herbert Block (No. 13), editorial cartoonist for the Washington Post who died last year at the ripe old age of 91, gave away $53 million, $51.8 million of which to establish a foundation in the nation's capital. (Let those ages be lesson to you, a generous heart lives long!)

(A note on the methodology of this year's list: It includes people who made both actual donations and pledges, the idea being that people would be credited for giving large gifts even if they're to be doled out in smaller increments. All previous Slate 60s counted paid gifts only. Another way this year's list is different from the others: There are two separate lists of profiles instead of one massive catch-all. To be profiled, donors had to have given gifts of $25 million or more and/or pledge [basically an IOU for the donation] that same amount or more. A donor, like, say, Sidney Kimmel, who both gives away and pledges more than $25 million is profiled on both lists.)

For the No. 1 spot, Intel money beat out Microsoft's. Gordon Moore, a co-founder of the chip maker, and his wife, Betty, gave a jaw-dropping $5.8 billon to a foundation named for the couple. Bill and Melinda Gates came in at No. 2 with a $2 billion donation to their foundation, which gave away more that $1.1 billion in grants last year.

Rounding out the top five are James and Virginia Stowers (No.3) with a $1.12 billion gift that went predominately to a medical research facility. And Eli and Edythe Broad (No. 5) gave $387.89 million to their foundations that support educational, art, and other projects. (See the full list here.)

As usual, universities and colleges received the most donations and pledges of any category. Peter B. Lewis (No. 9) donated $19.1 million for Princeton University's human-genetics program and $14.5 million of a $60 mil pledge to help it build a new science library. Lewis also donated $16 million to Case Western Reserve University. University of Texas at Austin received a $40 million pledge from oilman John A. (Jack) Jackson (No. 14). Wine-maker Robert Mondavi and his wife, Margrit Biever Mondavi, (No. 20) pledged $35 million to the University of California at Davis to establish a wine institute. But college isn't all about books: William and Nancy Laurie (sharing the No. 27 spot) shelled out $25 million to the University of Missouri in Columbia to help build a new basketball arena.

But let us not forget the beasts among us. Maddie's Fund, a foundation created in 1994 by David and Cheryl Duffield (No. 18) and named for the couple's dog, got $37 million to continue its mission of encouraging pet adoption, providing scholarships for veterinary school, and evangelizing spaying and neutering pets. Ruth Price Thomas (No. 17) left a small yet not insignificant portion of her $40.4 million bequest to our furry friends: a $50,000 check to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and another one to the Cayuga County SPCA. And Florence Foerderer (No. 36) gave a $7 million of her $21 million bequest to the Philadelphia Zoo.

The Duffields were the only folks on the list to earmark a portion of their largess to Sept. 11 victims, with a $1 million gift to help pay for college for children and spouses of those killed in the attacks. And Slate 60 regular Ted Turner (No. 6) pledged more than $330 million, with the lion's share of that going toward establishing the Nuclear Threat Initiative, an organization devoted to reducing nuclear arms and other weapons of mass destruction.

Slate began publishing the list of the 60 top donors in 1996, after, in a Maureen Dowd column, Turner chastised the rich for being miserly with their pennies. He thought that if a list existed, much like the Fortune 500, the shame of not being mentioned would pressure the wealthy to open their pockets. From the Slate 60's inception, philanthropist tracker extraordinaire Ann Castle compiled the list for us, that is until she suddenly died soon after the '99 list was completed. Laura Hruby and the staff of the Chronicle of Philanthropy ably picked up Ann's mantle in 2000. Slate thanks Laura and the Chronicle for continuing Ann's fine work again this year.

Laurie Snyder is Slate's copy chief.