February 7, 2012

America's 50 biggest donors: Who's giving to hospitals?

Daily Briefing

    The nation's 50 most generous donors last year gave $357.5 million to hospitals and medical centers amid a surge in overall charitable donations, according to an annual analysis by The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

    For the 12th annual Philanthropy 50 list, The Chronicle obtained data from the wealthiest U.S. residents and biggest not-for-profit organizations. They assessed gifts and pledges in cash, stock, and other valuable items made to organizations with charity or foundation status under Internal Revenue Service code. The list does not include anonymous donations.

    According to the analysis, charitable donations recovered with the financial markets in 2011—the nation's 50 biggest donors gave $10.4 billion in 2011, up from $3.3 billion the year prior, the lowest sum since The Chronicle launched the list.

    Overall, donors on the list made eight donations of $5 million or more to hospitals and medical centers, accounting for about 3.6% of major financial gifts. Notable hospital-related donations in 2011 included:

    • Financier Raymond Perelman and his wife Ruth's $225 million donation to the University of Pennsylvania to endow the newly renamed Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine;
    • Investment banker Robert Tidwell's $30 million, posthumous gift to the Children's Hospital of Orange County Foundation, which the hospital has used to fund a new building, clinical programs, endowment, and recruitment;
    • Real estate executive Sidney Eskenazi and his wife Lois' $40 million donation to build a new hospital in Indianapolis;
    • Resorts and coal-mining operations owner James C. Justice II and his wife Cathy's $10 million, 10-year donation to Cleveland Clinic Innovations, which will endow a chair in medical innovation and foster critical thought and idea development in the medical field; and
    • Construction executive Conrad Prebys' $45 million donation to Scripps Health to build the Prebys Cardiovascular Institute.

    The list did not include the late Huguette Clark's donated estate, which was pledged in part to her longtime nurse and to Beth Israel Medical Center, where the reclusive heiress spent much of the last years of her life. According to The Chronicle, the estate is trapped in a legal battle because Clark signed two wills within six weeks of each other.

    Meanwhile, some of the 50 biggest donors made major contributions to health care foundations. For example, Google co-founder Sergey Brin donated $61.9 million to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.

    In addition, the list included one donor who made his fortune in health care. Former HCA CEO Jack Bovender and his wife, Barbara, pledged $26 million to Duke University, including a $5 million gift to the School of Nursing. Barbara Bovender once served as head nurse at Duke University Hospital (Di Mento/Preston, The Chronicle, 2/6; The Chronicle methods, 2/6).

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