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Major Gifts Drop 30% In 2012

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Major charity gifts in the United States dropped 30 percent in 2012 from the previous year, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports.

According to the news outlet, the top 10 gifts donated totaled $5.1 billion. But after subtracting Warren Buffett’s pledge to give stock valued at $3 billion to his children's three foundations from the overall tally, that number came in at $2 billion, a significant drop from 2011’s $2.6 billion in charitable giving by billionaires.

Even after accounting for Buffett’s hefty personal gift, the business mogul's generous hand still played a major role in getting people to donate charity last year. Buffett inspired 23 families in 2012 to join the Giving Pledge -- an initiative he launched along with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to get the super-wealthy to pledge half their riches to charity.

Since its inception in 2010, the Giving Pledge has signed on 92 billionaires. Some of the newest members include Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and his wife, Patty Quillin, and Intel Chairman Emeritus Gordon Moore and his wife, Betty.

“They come from different backgrounds, but share a common desire to see positive change in our world,” Buffett said in a press release in April, after 12 families joined the Giving Pledge. “We’ve said from the beginning that this is a longterm effort, but I’m particularly pleased to see continued momentum in encouraging greater and more thoughtful philanthropy.”

While billionaires may have eased up on their giving in 2012, it looks like they’ll be digging a little deeper into their pockets in the coming year. According to an October study sponsored by the Bank of America, wealthy U.S. investors plan to give more to charity, or maintain their current levels of giving, in the next three to five years.

Of the 700 U.S. households surveyed -- each with a net worth of more than $ 1 million -- 24 percent said they plan to give more to charity, while 52 percent said they would continue to give as much as they do now.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story stated that billionaires gave less in 2012 than in 2011. The study quoted referred to a drop in major charity gifts, not the amount billionaires donated to charity.

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