The 5 philanthropists you should be watching

The Chronicle of Philanthropy's 50 most generous donors from 2012 list shows that there are more donors under 40 giving away more than ever before.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy's annual list of the 50 most generous donors from 2012 is younger than ever.  The list, released this week, shows there are more donors -- individuals or couples -- under 40 among its ranks. Of the five biggest donors on the list, three are under 40. It's the first time that has happened. And taken together, these under-40 donors account for more than 15 percent of the total amount the Philanthropy's 50 donors contributed in 2012. 

Some bad news? The median amount given away by the Philantropy's 50 donors for 2012 was $49.6 million, compared to a median of $61 million in 2011, and a pre-recession high of $74.7 million. (The chronicle first began tracking this data in 2000.)

Which donors on the list are people keeping an eye on? Along with youth, a lot of the donors are coming from Silicon Valley and high-tech. Marketplace compiled a list of five of the younger, more surprising philanthropists:

1. Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan (No. 2 overall)

The Facebook co-founder and his wife, a pediatrician, gave 18 million shares of their Facebook stock to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation to fund education programs and health awareness. This isn’t the first time the social network guru and his wife have supported education. In 2010, they gave $100 million to support public schools in New Jersey.

2. John and Laura Arnold (No. 3 overall)

The hedge fund founder and his wife (a former lawyer and businesswoman) established the Laura and John Arnold Foundation in 2008 to help nonprofits working to improve pension systems and public education. So far the couple has put over $900 million into this fund. The couple has also supported charter schools in New Orleans and obesity research. In 2012, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation founded the Giving Library, an online tool to educate philanthropists on different charities.

3. Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki (No. 5 overall)

The Google co-founder and his wife spent 2012 donating money to the Micheal J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. They also supported the Brian Wojcicki Foundation, which donated to Ashoka, the Human Rights Foundation and the Tipping Point Community, an organization geared toward eliminating poverty in Northern California.

4. Joshua Rechnitz (No. 20 overall)

Amount donated in 2012: $57 million. The heir to the Heilbrunn fortune (he's the grandson of Robert H. Heilbrunn, who invested in undervalued companies beginning during the Depression) spent 2012 donating his time and money to a nonprofit he created to fund an indoor sports complex. He also put close to $7 million into the Powerhouse Environmental Arts Foundation, a nonprofit he created to turn an old fire station into a studio for artists.

5. Jon Stryker (No. 39 overall)

The heir to the Stryker Corporation (a firm that develops and produces medical supplies) fortune donated over $30 million in 2012. All of the money went towards to the Arcus Foundation, a nonprofit he founded in 2000 to fight discrimination against the LGBT community. Last year the foundation awarded 116 grants of more than $17 million.

About the author

John Ketchum is an assistant producer for Marketplace’s wealth & poverty desk.

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