UPDATED: Tues. Feb. 12, 1:50 p.m. EST
If the word "philanthropy" conjures up solely images of stodgy foundations and out-of-touch donors, it may be time to clear your cache.
At the top of The Chronicle of Philanthropy's list of the largest U.S. donors in 2012 are three movers and shakers from the tech world and three couples are under 40.
“We’ve just never seen this in philanthropy,” Chronicle editor Stacy Palmer, told Forbes. “Usually we have pictures of old white men on the top of the list.”
The top 50 donors on the list pledged a total of $7.4 billion, with a median gift of $49.6 million.
This is down from 2011's $10.4 billion, which included one large bequest. Without it, giving totaled $4.4 billion in 2011, the Chronicle reported.
Most of the donations this past year went to large institutions, higher education, arts and culture, hospitals, and private foundations.
Some of the largest reasons for giving were local community needs, concerns about budget cuts and donors seeking to fill the gaps, as well as increasing college tuition price tags.
Warren Buffett, the No. 1 donor, gave $3.1 billion to his three children's foundations. Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, were the second largest givers, pledging $498.8 million to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, according to the Chronicle.
Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, gave to the Allen Institute for Brain Science, among others. Google co-founder Sergey Brin and his wife, Anne Wojcicki Brin, gave to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, as well as other recipients.
Silicon Valley tech titans have been credited with bolstering charity in 2012 through their "uber gifts," Rob Mitchell, CEO of the Atlas of Giving, told the Huffington Post in January.
The top names in tech gave $1.4 billion to charity in 2012, according to a Wall Street Journal study by Equilar. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and Google co-founder Sergey Brin topped the list. All three were among eight of the top 10 Silicon Valley-related donors who increased their stock giving from 2011 to 2012.
This trend may characterize a Silicon Valley philanthropy "reboot," meaning tech giants are becoming known for both giving and earning. Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, founder of a social venture fund SV2, explained to the New York Times:
“The word ‘philanthropy’ brings up an image of somebody who’s had an illustrious career, has retired and is giving to highly established institutions that may or may not have ivy growing up their walls,” she said. “I personally have felt the need to give philanthropy a reboot.”
Bill Gates and Mayor Michael Bloomberg were not listed on the Philanthropy 50 because the list does not count payments on past pledges or foundation grants, the Chronicle explained. Gates contributed millions to pay off his pledge and Bloomberg's donations included foundation grants which excluded them from the list.
Charitable giving in 2013 is slated to increase only 1.6 percent compared with last year, according to the Atlas of Giving, with issues such as the environment forecasted to receive more attention.
See the list of the top 10 donors below and click over to the Chronicle of Philanthropy for the full 50: