Posted on January 4, 2007
A New Golden Age of Philanthropy?
PND Special Issue: 2006: Year in Review - A New Golden Age of Philanthropy?
Perhaps inspired by the federal tax relief package Congress passed after Hurricane Katrina, allowing donors who made cash gifts to charity by the end of 2005 to deduct an amount equal to virtually 100 percent of their adjusted gross incomes, 2006 saw a record number of ten- and nine-figure charitable gifts and had observers of the sector talking about a new golden age of philanthropy.
Leading the way was Warren Buffett's donation of Berkshire Hathaway stock, valued at roughly $31 billion, to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — a gift that, for all intents and purposes, doubled the grantmaking resources of what was already the world's largest private foundation. Amazingly, Buffett's gift made the $1.3 billion in stock that Herbert and Marion Sandler, founders of Golden West Financial Corp., donated to an unidentified nonprofit (rumored to be Human Rights Watch) in July look positively modest.
Many of the mega-gifts were made to universities, often as part of multi-billion-dollar capital campaigns. They included a $261.5 million commitment from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation to Emory University in Atlanta to help fund construction of a model patient-centered healthcare system; gifts of $200 million to New York University from the Leon Levy Foundation to establish an institute for multi-disciplinary study of the ancient world, and to Columbia University from Dawn M. Greene and the Jerome L. Greene Foundation to establish a new research and teaching facility to house the university's Mind, Brain, and Behavior Initiative; and a $200 million endowment bequest from the estate of Los Angeles philanthropist Joan Palevsky to the California Community Foundation.
Ironically, Buffett's to the Gates Foundation overshadowed three awards of more than $100 million made by the Seattle-based foundation in support of global health initiatives — $104 million to the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development; $287 million divided among sixteen groups charged with creating an international research network to accelerate HIV vaccine development; and a five-year, $500 million grant to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. The foundation also expanded its Global Libraries initiative by launching a $328 million campaign to provide computer and Internet access in public libraries in a dozen countries over the next seven years.
Other significant gifts announced during the year included the $175 million that Star Wars and Indiana Jones director George Lucas gave to the School of Cinema Television at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, his alma mater; the $125 million that New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg pledged in support of a worldwide anti-smoking campaign, which followed on the heels of a $100 million gift he made to Johns Hopkins University, his alma mater; and the $101 million that Princeton University received from philanthropist Peter B. Lewis, a trustee and 1955 graduate of the university.
Woodruff Foundation Pledges $261.5 Million to Emory University (11/21/06)
California Community Foundation Receives $200 Million Bequest (10/31/06)
USC Film School Receives $175 Million From George Lucas (9/21/06)
Yeshiva University Receives $100 Million for Legacy Fund (9/15/06)
New York City Mayor Pledges $125 Million to Anti-Smoking Efforts (8/17/06)
Global Fund Receives $500 Million From Gates Foundation (8/11/06)
Gates Foundation Awards $287 Million for HIV Vaccine Development (7/21/06)
Founders of Golden West Financial Donate $1.3 Billion to Unidentified Charity (7/11/06)
Stanford Receives $100 Million From Alumnus (5/31/06)
Gates Foundation Awards $104 Million to TB Alliance (5/26/06)
Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center Receives $100 Million Gift (5/11/06)
New York University to Receive $200 Million for Institute of the Ancient World (3/23/06)
Columbia University to Receive $200 Million for Neurosciences Center (3/22/06)
Johns Hopkins Receives $100 Million From New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (2/03/06)
Baylor Medical School to Receive $100 Million for Cancer Center (2/02/06)
Princeton to Receive $101 Million for Arts Initiative (1/24/06)