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Giving when you’ve got a lot to give

By Dian Vujovich

Wealth-X published its 2014 who-gave-away-the-most-money-to-one-source list this week. Sadly, there were no Palm Beachers on it. Nonetheless, the list makes for an interesting read particularly for anyone who happens to be competitive in their charitable giving—and likes making Top 10 lists.

For openers, putting dollar amounts aside for a moment, the donated amount to net worth ratio for these generous souls ranged from a low of 3 percent to a high of 21 percent. Again, the percentage reflects what was given to only one single source, not the individual’s or couple’s total charitable giving for the year.

So, Warren Buffet topped the list donating $2.1 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The gift represented about 3 percent of his net worth and wasn’t handed over in cold cash but came in the form of 16.6 million shares of Berkshire Hathaway, according to Wealth-X.

Harvard University picked up millions from two brothers Ronnie and Gerald Chan. They are Hong Kong real estate moguls who gave 10 percent and 12 percent of their fortunes, respectively, to the University recognized by its Crimson-colored logo, etc. By the way, the $350 million they donated–$175 million from each– was Harvard University’s largest charitable gift ever.

Harvard also picked up $150,000 from self-made Forbes Fortune 400 billionaire, Ken Griffin. He’s a hedge fund guy and founder of Citadel. Like Buffett, his one-source charitable donation represented about 3 percent of his net worth.

The individual donating the greatest percentage of their net worth ratio was John “Jay” Jordon. His gift of $75 million to Notre Dame made Jordon the University’s most generous benefactor in their history. He too is a money-management guy and is co-founder of The Jordan Company. A house that focuses on leveraged buyouts.

But my favorite of all the generous folks who made Wealth-X’s list is Gert Boyle. She gave $150,000 to Oregon Health & Science University. An amount that represented 16 percent of her wealth. Wealth that was acquired from Columbia Sportswear, a company her father began that she later became president of and now, at age 90, is the company’s chairwoman.

But that’s not the really interesting thing about her: In addition to being financially fortunate and a philanthropist, Boyle also has plenty of moxie.

In 2010, when she was 86, an armed robber held her up at gunpoint in her home in Oregon. And, according to Wikipedia, she “ was able to trigger a silent alarm which alerted police and the robber was captured.”

I like her.

As this year winds down, be generous in your charitable and philanthropic giving. Gifts of any size matter.Making lists, not so much.

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