Big gifts by individuals dropped dramatically in 2001

Monday, December 31st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ There must be a recession; even Bill Gates is cutting back.

The super rich are becoming much more frugal with their charitable giving.

In 2001, the 10 largest gifts to charity totaled $4.6 billion, down from $11.08 billion the year before.

The Microsoft Corp. chairman retained the top spot on the 2001 list of large individual gifts compiled by the Chronicle of Philanthropy. But the world's richest man gave $2 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, compared with $5 billion in 2000.

``This is just not as healthy a year, but that isn't surprising given the state of the economy,'' said Stacy Palmer, the Chronicle's editor.

The decline in the size of donations by the wealthy came in the same year that average Americans opened their wallets with extraordinary generosity to help the victims of Sept. 11.

``The kind of gifts given by the wealthy are dependent on the economy. It isn't the same as someone giving $20 to $30 for a cause, but the timing is ironic,'' Palmer said.

The Chronicle compiles its lists from public announcements made through the year.

Gordon Moore, co-founder and chairman emeritus of Intel Corp., and his wife, Betty, are the only other individuals who were also on the top 10 list in 2000, and their 2001 donation also dropped dramatically.

In 2001, their $300 million pledge to the California Institute of Technology for science and education programs was the third-largest on the list. The year before, their $5 billion pledge to endow the Gordon E. and Betty I. Moore Foundation shared top honors with Gates' gift.

The second-largest gift in 2001 was a $1.11 billion pledge by Jim Stowers and his wife, Virginia, to endow the Stowers Institute for Medical Research. Stowers founded the American Century mutual-fund company.

Rounding out the top five were: Bill Coleman, founder of BEA Systems, in San Jose, Calif., and his wife, Claudia, pledged $250 million to create a research institute operated by the University of Colorado system. The couple tied for fourth with CNN founder Ted Turner, whose pledge went to establish a Nuclear Threat Initiative. The fifth-largest donation was an anonymous pledge of $230 million for unrestricted use at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.