The Philanthropy 50: Top Givers in 2009

Megagifts took a hit last year. The donors on the Philanthropy 50, The Chronicle of Philanthropy's annual list of the most generous people in America, gave a total of $4.1 billion to charity in 2009, the second-lowest number since the newspaper began tracking the biggest philanthropists in 2000. The median gift was $41.4 million, compared to $69.3 million in 2008 and $74.7 million in 2007. Stanley and Fiona Druckenmiller ranked No. 1 on the list of most generous donors, giving $705 million to their foundation. John Templeton, Bill and Melinda Gates, and Michael Bloomberg came in next, committing $573 million, $350 million, and $254 million respectively. While the recession is dissuading some of the country's wealthiest from donating, it is encouraging others to get more creative in their giving. Gifts for new buildings were few last year, for example, while donations to solve environmental and social problems, to ameliorate the toll of the recession, and to encourage charities to work together and in new ways were more common.