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2010 a very poor year for giving by rich

Hungarian-American financier George Soros tops a list of most-generous donors in America in 2010, giving an estimated $332 million to charity, according to a new ranking by The Chronicle of Philanthropy andSlate magazine.
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Hungarian-American financier George Soros topped a list of most-generous donors in America in 2010, giving an estimated $332 million to charity, according to a new ranking by The Chronicle of Philanthropy and Slate magazine.

More than 50 billionaires announced last year that they would ultimately devote at least half of their wealth to charity, but few made big gifts in 2010, the survey of the 50 most-generous donors in America found.

Donors on The Chronicle’s list — which actually numbered 54 this year, due to ties in the rankings — gave a combined $3.3 billion to charity. That’s the smallest sum since The Chronicle began tracking the biggest donors in 2000. (The list measures the cumulative amount each individual gives each year to charitable causes, not just the biggest donations of the year.)

"As nonprofits across the country strain to meet increasing demands from Americans who have lost jobs and economic security, many of them hope the wealthiest citizens will step up their giving in 2011," said Stacy Palmer, The Chronicle’ s editor. "The year ahead will be especially tough for nonprofits as governments cut back their spending, and many charities will increasingly rely on big donors to finance vital community operations."

Many of the donors on the list are prominent philanthropists — but not necessarily the richest people in America. Of the 400 wealthiest Americans ranked by Forbes magazine, only 17 appeared on this year’s list of the most-generous donors, according to The Chronicle.

Leading the list was Soros, the hedge-fund manager, who gave $332 million to his Open Society Foundations. The foundations support democracy and human rights in more than 70 countries. (Soros’ brother and sister-in-law, Paul and Daisy M. Soros, also made the list, tied for No. 41).

Second in the rankings was Michael R. Bloomberg, New York’s billionaire mayor and founder of the financial information company that bears his name. He divided $279.2 million among nearly 1,000 charities. Third was T. Denny Sanford, chairman and CEO of United National Corp.

Rounding out the top 10 were:

4. Irwin M. and Joan K. Jacobs, $119.5 million
5. Eli and Edythe L. Broad, $118.3 million
6. Leonard Blavatnik, $117.2 million
7. Frances Lasker Brody, $110 million (bequest)
8. T. Boone Pickens, $101 million
9. Meyer and Renee Luskin, $100.5 million
10. Marc R. Lynne Benioff, $100 million
10. Mark Zuckerberg, $100 million

The 26-year-old Zuckerberg, founder of social-networking site Facebook, is the youngest person to ever appear in the rankings.

Three well-known philanthropists — Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren E. Buffett — don’t appear in the rankings because the money they gave in 2010 ($46.4 million and $1.9 billion, respectively) was to pay off pledges announced in previous years, according to The Chronicle. The list includes only new pledges and gifts.

For a full list of the donors and the charities they supported, visit The Chronicle at  and Slate at