The 60 largest American charitable contributions of the year.

The 60 largest American charitable contributions of the year.

The 60 largest American charitable contributions of the year.

Analysis of the year's biggest philanthropists.
Feb. 15 2007 11:26 PM

The 2006 Slate 60: Donations

The 60 largest American charitable contributions of the year.

Introduction to the Slate 60
Philanthropists who made donations.
Philanthropists who made pledges.
The Slate 60 database.


Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett

Warren E. Buffett—$1.9 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, the Susan A. Buffett Foundation, and the NoVo Foundation. Buffett, 76, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, an insurance and investment company in Omaha, Neb., paid $1.6 billion of his record $36.1 billion pledge to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He said he would continue to pay the foundation 5 percent of the remaining balance of the earmarked shares every year until his death. In addition, Buffett paid $151.3 million of his $3 billion pledge to the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, in Omaha. The foundation supports education, medical research, and efforts to curb population growth. It was named for Buffett's first wife, Susan, who was president of the foundation until her death in 2004. Buffett also paid $52.9 million each to the foundations run by his three children: the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, in Decatur, Ill.; the Susan A. Buffett Foundation, in Omaha; and the NoVo Foundation, Peter Buffett's foundation in New York. As he did with his pledge to the Gates Foundation, Buffett said he would pay the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation and the three foundations run by his children 5 percent of the remaining balance of the shares every year until his death.


Herbert M. and Marion O. Sandler—$1.3 billion to the Sandler Family Supporting Foundation. The Sandlers, both in their 70s, are former co-chief executive officers of Golden West Financial Corporation, an Oakland, Calif., savings and loan company that merged with Wachovia last October. They gave 17,422,751 shares of Golden West Financial Corporation stock worth $1.3 billion to their Sandler Family Supporting Foundation in San Francisco, of which Marion Sandler serves as president. The Sandlers declined to disclose how the money will be used, but in the past the couple has supported asthma and malaria research and research to develop a treatment for Chagas' disease, an insect-born illness found in South America. The couple has also donated money to human rights groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch.

Bernard A. and Barbro Osher—$723.2 million to theBernard Osher Foundation. Bernard Osher, 79 and a founding director of Golden West Financial Corporation, an Oakland, Calif., savings and loan company that merged with Wachovia last October; and Barbro Osher, the consul general of Sweden in San Francisco, donated 10 million shares of Golden West Financial Corporation stock worth $723.2 million to the Bernard Osher Foundation in San Francisco. The couple would not say exactly how much of their total donation would support each program, but they have earmarked the money for college scholarships, performing-arts programs, and several higher-education projects. One of these, the Osher Re-Entry Scholarship Program, provides money to 40 colleges and universities for scholarships to people between the ages of 25 and 50 who were formerly traditional-age college students whose studies were interrupted. The money will also support three medical-education centers focused on integrating conventional and alternative approaches to medicine. The couple established the first center at the University of California at San Francisco School of Medicine in 1998, the second center at Harvard Medical School in 2001, and the third center at the Karolinska Institute, a medical university in Stockholm, in 2005.

Jim Joseph—$500 million to the Jim Joseph Foundation. Joseph, the founder of Interland Corporation, a real-estate company in San Francisco and Davis, Calif., who died in 2003 at 68, left the bulk of his estate—at least $500 million in cash, stock, and real estate—to the foundation he started in San Francisco in 1987, which focuses on improving education of Jewish traditions and history among young Jewish people. The value of the real-estate portion of the bequest has not yet been determined. With this bequest, the foundation became one of the country's largest to focus on Jewish causes. Joseph did not specify exactly how the donation should be used. Joseph, whose Hebrew name was Shimon ben Yosef Yitzhak, left his native Austria with his family in 1938, fleeing the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler. In creating his foundation, he sought to provide formal and informal educational opportunities for young Jewish people and adults in the United States.

Hector Guy and Doris Di Stefano—$264 million to the American Humane Association, Direct Relief International, Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust, Greenpeace International Inc., Salvation Army, Santa Barbara Hospice Foundation, Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care of Santa Barbara, and World Wildlife Fund. Hector Guy Di Stefano, who died last year at 90, and his wife, who died in 2005 at age 90, left their entire estate, worth approximately $264 million, to be divided evenly among eight charities, any way they wished. Hector Guy Di Stefano was a pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II and retired from the Federal Aviation Administration. He also owned a jewelry store in California. Doris Di Stefano inherited stock in the UPS company. The estate gift is being challenged by one of the beneficiaries, the Salvation Army, because it says that Greenpeace International Inc. is defunct and therefore not entitled to its share. The Greenpeace Fund, which was set up to take over the activities of Greenpeace International, says that it is entitled to the money. Both groups stand to receive $33 million apiece, pending a resolution of the court dispute. The other recipients have already received about $33 million each and would get more if the Salvation Army wins its battle. Most of the money in the estate comes from UPS stock that Doris Di Stefano inherited from her father, a top executive of the company in its earliest days. Hector Guy Di Stefano flew B-24 Liberator planes out of North Africa during World War II, said Alan Miller, his accountant since 1990. He gave away very little money during his lifetime, and the couple's approach to spending was conservative, Miller said. In the mid-1990s, shortly after the couple completed their estate plans, Doris Di Stefano told Miller that they didn't want their bequests to be made public until their deaths. "Doris told me that if their neighbors ever knew how much money they had, she'd just die," Miller said. She made one other choice clear to her accountant: Her father told her never to sell the UPS stock, and she never did. "He just felt it was going to be a good asset to hold," Miller said. "He was right."


Mary Joan Palevsky—$212.8 million to the California Community Foundation, the University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Mount St. Mary's College, the National Parkinson Foundation, and the United Negro College Fund. Palevsky, who died at 80 in March and whose wealth grew from investments she made after receiving a $40 million divorce settlement in 1968 from her husband, Max Palevsky, the founder of Scientific Data Systems, an early computer company that was sold to Xerox in 1969, bequeathed more than $200 million—the bulk of her estate—to the California Community Foundation in Los Angeles to be used however the foundation wishes. Foundation officials have decided to use the gift to create an endowment—to be named for Palevsky—that will support arts and culture groups, civic-participation projects, civil-liberties groups, public education, and programs and organizations that advocate for elderly people, women, children, and needy families. A private, intellectual woman, Palevsky was much more comfortable among her many books than she was with large crowds of people. She rarely attended charity events but was well known within the Los Angeles nonprofit world as a supporter of the arts and groups that served poor people or others who had trouble getting aid from government or business. She was also known for supporting women's causes and female Democratic candidates running for public office. "She was an extraordinarily progressive, feminist woman," says Antonia Hernández, the president of the foundation, who says Palevsky's final gift came as a surprise. According to Palevsky's accountant, the donor set up her will 15 years ago but never contacted the foundation to tell officials there that she was leaving the organization such a windfall. Previously, Palevsky had made only a more modest gift, of $2,200 in 1997, after reading a newspaper article about the foundation's efforts to ease the textbook shortage within Los Angeles public schools. The community foundation's assets have now skyrocketed to more than $1 billion, up from more than $800 million, and it now plans to grant $20 million a year, double what it could give previously. Additionally, Palevsky left $6.1 million to the University of California at Los Angeles for professorships of $1 million each to the history, French, and classics departments, and for fellowships and scholarships in the College of Letters and Science. The money will also support a campus child-care center, an honors program, a humanities center, and a research library. Palevsky graduated from the university in 1947. She also left $1.1 million to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for its ancient-art division, its the department of prints and drawing, an intern program she had previously established, the museum's library, endowment, and its Islamic-art division (to which she had given 650 objects from her own collection in 1973). She also bequeathed $1 million each to Mount St. Mary's College in Los Angeles, the National Parkinson Foundation in Miami, the United Negro College Fund in Fairfax, Va. and $2.6 million to 38 additional nonprofit organizations.

T. Boone Pickens—$171.5 million tothe T. Boone Pickens Foundation. Pickens, 78, founder of Mesa Petroleum and BP Capital Management in Dallas, gave $160 million to establish the T. Boone Pickens Foundation in Dallas. He has said he plans to give most of his charitable donations through the foundation from now on. The foundation's giving will be distributed to groups throughout the country and focus primarily on health and medical research, treatment, and services, as well as conservation and wildlife management, corporate health and fitness, education and athletics, and assistance for troubled children. Pickens, who is chairman of the new foundation, has said he hopes to give away 80 percent of his fortune, estimated at $2.7 billion, while he is still alive. He has not yet decided whether to endow the foundation or simply donate money to it every year. He has said, however, that the foundation will eventually give away all of its money to charity at some point after his death. Pickens also gave more than $11.5 million to 82 nonprofit organizations, including the American Civil Rights Coalition in Sacramento, the Communities Foundation of Texas in Dallas, the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts, the Media Research Center in Alexandria, Va., and the Oklahoma State University Foundation in Stillwater, Okla. Pickens caused controversy in 2005 when he donated $165 million to Oklahoma State. The gift was given to build a $300 million athletics compound and finish construction of a football stadium, which  Pickens helped support with a $20 million pledge in 2003. But some university faculty members accused Pickens of wielding too much influence over which athletics coaches the university hired, and Stillwater residents accused him of pushing the university to speed up construction of the compound, which will displace hundreds of homeowners.

Michael R. Bloomberg
Michael R. Bloomberg

Michael R. Bloomberg—$165 million to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Centers for Disease Control Foundation, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School for Public Health, World Lung Foundation, World Health Organization.  Bloomberg, 65, the mayor of New York and founder of Bloomberg LP, a financial-data and news-service business in New York, donated $165 million to 1,000 organizations, five of which are working to fight tobacco use worldwide. The remaining 995 groups—which Bloomberg declined to name—support arts, education, health care, and social services. Bloomberg would not disclose how much money he gave to each of the five organizations—the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, in Washington; the Centers for Disease Control Foundation, in Atlanta; the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School for Public Health, in Baltimore; the World Lung Foundation, in New York; and the World Health Organization, in Geneva—but the undisclosed payments were part of $125 million pledge he announced last year. The money will be used to provide the first two years of support for a project, coordinated by the five groups, to monitor the progress of countries that are developing programs to help people stop smoking, and that are supporting government efforts to pass and enforce laws against smoking. Although Bloomberg would not name many of the groups to which he gave, it has been rumored that he was the anonymous donor of a $30 million donation to the Carnegie Corporation of New York in June. Counting the $30 million in 2006, Carnegie has received a total of $85 million from this same anonymous donor over the last five years. Another supposedly anonymous donor, said to be Bloomberg in reports in both the Baltimore Sun and the New York Times, gave $100 million to the Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore. The donor stipulated that the money be used for stem-cell research, for the renovation of a university building, for programs in the Bloomberg School of Public Health, and to help pay for a new children's facility at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Officials from the university and the Carnegie Corporation say they will not confirm whether Bloomberg is the donor.

Lorry I. Lokey—$163 million to the Lorry I. Lokey Supporting Foundation and the Stanford University Donor Advised Fund. Lokey, 80, founder of Business Wire, a San Francisco company that distributes news releases and which  Lokey sold to Berkshire Hathaway last March, gave $100 million to the Lorry I. Lokey Supporting Foundation in San Francisco. The money will be used to support arts and culture, education, and Jewish groups. Last year, the foundation awarded 28 grants totaling almost $33 million, including a $6 million grant to Mills College Graduate School of Business in Oakland, Calif.; a $200,000 grant to Jewish Family & Children's Services of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties; and $125,000 in grants to the Eugene Symphony in Oregon. Lokey also gave $50 million to the Stanford University Donor Advised Fund in California. Half the money will go to the American Technion Society in New York for a life-sciences and engineering program at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, in Haifa, Israel. The other half of the money will go toward Stanford's new stem-cell research laboratory, to be named for Lokey. Lokey said that by the time the money is paid out to the two institutions—in three years—each will end up receiving closer to $33 million apiece because of accrued interest. He also made gifts totaling $13 million to arts and culture groups, education and human-service charities, and elementary and secondary schools.

Arthur Zankel—$141 million to Skidmore College, Carnegie Hall, the Zankel Fund, the Teachers College at Columbia University, the UJA-Federation of New York, Nature Conservancy, and the Society of Illustrators. Zankel, who committed suicide in 2005, was the founder of High Rise Capital Management, an investment management firm in New York. He left approximately $42 million to Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. He did not specify in his will how the college should use the money, so after consulting the Zankel family, the university announced that $15 million will be used to build a music center to be named for Zankel, while approximately $13 million will go toward the endowment. Of the remaining funds, $10 million will be used for scholarships for needy students, and $3.5 million will establish a program in arts management. Zankel served on the school's board of trustees for 10 years, and two of his four sons graduated from the college. Martin I. Zankel said he doesn't know how philanthropy came to be such an important part of his older brother's life, but it started during their childhood in New York. "He was always trying to help the underdog, and he felt he was very fortunate to be a brainy guy," said Martin Zankel. "He knew how to make money, and he wanted to share it." According to his brother, Arthur Zankel's generosity included putting the man who shined his shoes through college. Zankel also left $24 million to Carnegie Hall in New York, where he was a trustee. The money will go toward programming and operating costs for Judy and Arthur Zankel Hall, a performance space Zankel and his wife helped renovate with a $10 million gift in 1999. He left directions in his will for $20 million to establish a charitable trust and $10 million to set up a foundation from which his family members will make yearly donations to charities of their choice. He also bequeathed $15 million to the Zankel Fund, which he and his wife established in 1969. The fund supports arts and business groups, higher education, hospitals, social-service groups, and Jewish charities, synagogues, and federations. Zankel left $10 million to the Teachers College at Columbia University in New York, where he was vice chairman of the college's board of trustees. The college plans to use the money for 50 one-year scholarships of $10,000 each for needy graduate students. He left nearly $10 million to the UJA-Federation of New York, which will go into  Zankel's donor-advised fund. One-third of the earnings will establish a depression-treatment center at the Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services in New York, and one-third will support Birthright Israel, which gives free 10-day trips to Israel to young Jewish American adults who have never been to that country. The remaining one-third of the earnings will go toward charitable causes that the federation supports. Zankel also left $5 million to the Nature Conservancy in Arlington, Va., for the group's projects in New Hampshire and another $5 million to the Society of Illustrators in New York. His wife, Judy, is an illustrator, and the couple had been involved with the society for many years.