Large Gifts From Nation’s Wealthiest Surged in 2013, Study Finds

The nation's wealthiest donors gave a total of $7.7 billion in 2013, up 4 percent from 2012, as the median gift amount set a record of $86.1 million, the reports.

According to the Chronicle's annual ranking of the fifty donors in the United States who gave the most, the median gift amount in 2013 was up significantly from $49.6 million in 2012 and well above the pre-recession high of $74.7 million in 2007. The Chronicle also reported that commitments from living donors totaled nearly $6.2 billion in 2013 — almost as much as in the previous two years combined — and that institutions of higher education, private foundations, and hospitals received the greatest number of $1 million-plus gifts, followed by medical research facilities, arts organizations, and human service groups.

Topping the list of donors who gave the most in 2013 were Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, who gave nearly $1 billion in Facebook shares to the . They were followed on the list by the late George Mitchell, an energy tycoon who left an estimated $750 million to his , and Nike co-founder Phil Knight and his wife, Penelope, who pledged $500 million to the for cancer research, contingent on the university matching the pledge within two years.

While the 30 percent run-up in the stock market certainly had a lot to do with the surge of major gifts in 2013, Claire Costello, a philanthropic executive at , told the Chronicle that the intergenerational transfer of wealth, which is kicking into high gear, also was a factor and that charities and nonprofits can expect to see more big gifts in 2014 and beyond. "There is a glut of money out there," added Costello.

Ben Gose, Maria Di Mento, Doug Donovan. "." Chronicle of Philanthropy 02/09/2014.