In addition to a spirit of charity, information about the object of such giving is essential. A gift can have greater impact when it is intentionally given to effect an outcome. Interestingly, The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University recently released the Million Dollar List, an interesting tool for empowering the philanthropist and the nosy alike. This list is a compilation of all available information on publicly-announced gifts of $1 million or more. It is further organized by several metrics and into various charts. The list enables searches by state, organization type, and even individual donors. Browsing through the list you can see hard data on what fields are underrepresented and which ones are overrepresented, as well as geographical patterns. As a result, you can even take cues from some rather famous philanthropists. Not surprisingly, Warren Buffet and the Gates family top the list, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some interesting statistics. For example, 70% of all reported gifts are made by individuals (rather than by corporations), some 6,780 of the gifts were made by individuals who made just one gift at or above $1 million. Those individual donors make up only 11% of the gifts, but make up nearly 40% of the dollar amount. Go ahead and play around with the list tools for yourself. While you are at it, Forbes has an article with some more insights. It’s nice to see gifts working in black and white, and to get a better appreciation for how charity works on such a large scale.
Reference: Forbes (October 5, 2011) “Look Who’s Making (And Receiving) $1 Million-Plus Gifts”