When the economy was said to be poised for recovery at the beginning of 2010, there were rumblings as to whether philanthropy would follow suit. Well, it didn't.
The 2010 list of the 50 most generous donors in America, ranked by the Chronicle of Philanthropy and Slate, reports a combined total of $3.3 billion to charity, the smallest sum since 2000. The Chronicle tells us why:
"Donors and nonprofit officials said fears of the economy sliding back into recession and uncertainty about tax rules combined to shrink big giving in 2010."
Businessweek points out that philanthropists were also more savvy last year about where exactly their money was going.
Other 2010 trends in charity included game-changing moves by younger philanthropists. They were less likely to give to traditional recipient organizations such as colleges. Instead, 26-year-old Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg gave money to boost public education, and 43-year-old ebay founder Pierre Omidyar supported work to abolish slavery worldwide and to foster sustainable energy.
Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett aren't on this year's list. Their 2010 donations of $46.4 million and $1.9 billion paid off pledges announced in previous years.
Despite the lagging results of last year, a positive shift could be underway and giving could increase in 2011, the Chronicle reports.
"...With the federal estate tax and deduction limits resolved, at least temporarily, and warnings about a double-dip recession having faded, 2011 could be rosier."
See the top 10 givers from the Chronicle's list below. If you're feeling inspired, click on the hyperlinks in the slideshow to donate.