February 8, 2013

Young Philanthropists Take Top Spots in Ranking of Most Generous Donors

Philanthropists are getting younger, and community funds are getting stronger.

By: The Bridgespan Group
Philanthropists are getting younger, and community funds are getting stronger.

So finds the Chronicle of Philanthropy's list of America's most generous donors. The 13th annual Philanthropy 50, which is based on gifts and pledges of cash and stock to nonprofit organizations made in 2012, found that although "megaphilanthropy last year remained below levels seen before 2007’s economic shock," more of America's billionaires are beginning serious philanthropic efforts at a younger age. Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, both in their 20s, are the youngest on the list, and represent the growth of tech fortune–fueled giving. Philanthropist couples under the age of 40, including Give Smart Conversations of Remarkable Givers interviewees Laura and John Arnold, hold three of the top five spots.


[Related: Laura and John Arnold's Philanthropy Strategy Embraces Risks, Bets Big.]

That philanthropists are getting serious about their giving at a younger resonates with our own findings culled from Conversations, our free video series that features more than 60 philanthropists and foundation leaders who share an inside view of their philanthropy. Indeed, as The Chronicle finds, our research also shows that more business leaders are beginning serious philanthropic efforts at a younger age and are changing the face of philanthropy with their deeply engaged style of giving.

[Related: The New Breed of Philanthropists.]


The Chronicle's study also finds that 2012 was a strong year for community funds as a whole, bolstered by mega-donations from younger philanthropists. For example, Zuckerberg's pledge to donate $500 million to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation did much to reinvigorate the hope of community funds leaders that their locally focused organizations would not fall by the wayside as a result of modern society's rootlessness and frequent moving. Fearing this, The Chronicle reports, leaders of community funds have taken aggressive steps to promote their work to potential retirees in their area as well as young people building their fortunes, and those efforts have paid off to the tune of more than $1 billion in gifts. Still, it's interesting to note the words of Emmett Carson, the founding CEO Silicon Valley Community Foundation. In one discussion for Conversations, he says that his organization funds both Bay Area and international causes, and that going forward community foundations will need to reflect the interests of the new "global citizen" donor—community foundations will need to "accommodate global interests [like] never before" while continuing to meet local needs.

Emmett Carson Discusses the Future of Community Foundations

See the full special edition of The Chronicle of Philanthropy's Top 50.

You may also wish to see Give Smart articles and videos related to the Top 50.




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