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Posted Saturday, February 17, 2007
Warren Buffet heads list of top 21 2006 donors
By Reuters

WASHINGTON, Feb. 16, 2007 (Reuters) - Investor Warren Buffett may hold the title as America's top donor, but his well-heeled competitors helped make 2006 a record year for charitable giving, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reported on Friday.

A record 21 Americans each gave at least $100 million to charitable causes last year, in what amounted to a banner year for universities, medical centers, arts groups and other organizations that depend on charitable giving, the publication reported.

Buffett's $36.1 billion check to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation dwarfed other donations as the Berkshire Hathaway CEO began to give away his sizable fortune. The second-richest man in the world -- after Gates -- gave away a total of $43.5 billion last year.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's $165 million in contributions put him at No. 9 on the list. U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson tied for 18th with $100 million for environmental and other causes.

Other wealthy Americans stepped up to the plate with $7 billion in commitments, according to the publication, up from $4.3 billion in 2005.

Much of the largess came from California-based donors.

Former financial executives Herbert and Marion Sandler donated $1.3 billion to their foundation, which supports medical research.

Bernard Osher, Marion Sandler's brother, and his wife gave $723 million for academic scholarships and the performing arts.

Osher and the Sandlers are former executives of Golden West Financial Corp., an Oakland savings-and-loan that merged with Wachovia Corp. in October.

The late Bay Area real-estate mogul Jim Joseph gave $500 million for Jewish education, while Hector Guy and Doris Di Stefano of Santa Barbara left $264 million to several charities.

Microsoft Corp. founder Gates and his wife gave away $316 million last year, but they were left off the Chronicle's list because they made no new commitments.

Copyright © 2007 Reuters Limited

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