Mark Zuckerberg has topped a list ranking the biggest charitable donations by individual US philanthropists in 2013, after handing $990m (£596m) worth of Facebook shares to a Californian foundation.
Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan provided the Silicon Valley Community Foundation with 18m shares in the organisation in December. Theirs is the largest publicly announced single gift in the US in 2013, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy.
It makes up almost a third of the $3.4 billion (£2.05 billion) donated by philanthropists in the country who gave more than $100m (£60m).
The giving data reveals that gifts of $1m or more totalled nearly $9.6 billion (£5.8 billion) in 2013 overall – a significant increase from the total for 2012, which stood at $6.1 billion (£3.7 billion). It also charts an increase in the number of major donors, with 14 US citizens handing out gifts worth $100m or more in 2013, compared to 11 in 2012.
Also among the top donors in the last 12 months are Nike chairman Phil Knight and his wife Penelope, who pledged $500m (£301m) to the Oregon Health and Science University Foundation in aid of cancer research. Meanwhile, outgoing New York mayor Michael Bloomberg gave $350m (£210m) to the Johns Hopkins University and the financier Charles Johnson donated $250m (£150m) to Yale.
If ranked on overall value, Leonard Lauder, the former chairman of cosmetics giant Estée Lauder Companies, would trump Zuckerberg’s pledge. The 80-year-old gave 78 of his Cubist paintings, drawings and sculptures – worth $1 billion (£602m) in total – to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in April.
Stacy Palmer, the editor of the ranking, told the Financial Times that the data should provide optimism ahead of what promises to be a successful 2014 for philanthropy.
She added, “I think this is a good sign. I’ve noticed a lot of non-profits saying their end of year fundraising has gone well, which was not the case in the past few years when it was a real struggle.”