The Chronicle of Philanthropy recently noted that 2006 set the record for largest number of philanthropic donations of $100 million or more since the newspaper began keeping tally of charitable commitments ten years ago. In addition to Warren Buffett’s pledge to donate $30 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Chronicle reports that at least fourteen other philanthropists committed $100 million or more to single institutions last year.
Whereas individuals within the field of technology previously dominated the Chronicle’s list of largest gifts and pledges, donors in the financial and real estate industries feature more prominently on the 2006 list. Herbert M. and Marion O. Sandler, co-chief executive officers of Golden West Financial Corporation (San Francisco), and Bernard A. Osher, co-founder of Golden West Financial Corporation, made the second and third highest gifts, donating $1.3 billion and $723.2 million, respectively. Fourth on the list, Jim Joseph, founder of Interland Corporation (San Francisco), left a $500 million bequest to his foundation; David Rockefeller pledged $225 million to the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (New York) for a global development fund; Mary Joan Palevsky left a $200 million bequest to the California Community Foundation (Los Angeles); and Eli and Edythe Broad gave $137.6 million to the Broad Foundations (Los Angeles).
T. Boone Pickens, founder of both an oil company in 1956 and an energy investment firm in 1996, ranks eighth, with a $135 million donation to establish the T. Boone Pickens Foundation in Dallas, Texas.
Philip H. Knight, chairman of Nike, pledged $105 million to the Stanford University Graduate School of Business for a new management-center campus, and Peter B. Lewis, chairman of the Progressive Corporation, pledged $101 million to Princeton University for creative and performing arts programs.
Rounding out the list are five donors who committed $100 million, including John Arrillaga, co-founder of Peery Arrillaga (Stanford University); Dan L. Duncan, chairman of Enterprise Products (Baylor College of Medicine); Lawrence J. Ellison, CEO of Oracle (Ellison Medical Foundation in Bethesda, Maryland); Ronald P. Stanton, chairman of Transammonia (Yeshiva University in New York); and Mortimer B. Zuckerman, publisher and real-estate developer (for a research facility at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Center in New York).
Broad Foundation Builds High-Performing Charter Schools in California
The Broad Foundation recently issued a $10.5 million grant to Green Dot Public Schools, the leading public schools operator in Los Angeles and a major force behind California state education reform. The grant is the largest, single private grant to public charter schools in California and will allow for the opening of 21 new high schools over the next four years.
Steve Barr, co-founder of Rock the Vote and a State Board of Education appointee to the Advisory Commission on Charter Schools, founded Green Dot Public Schools in 1999. Since then, the operation’s attempts to improve graduation and college acceptance rates for traditionally disadvantaged students have been consistently successful. In 2006 Green Dot graduated 78 percent of its students, compared to only 46 percent of those enrolled in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Almost three out of four Green Dot graduates were accepted to four-year universities. While four out of five Green Dot High Schools scored 700 or higher (out of 1,000 points) on the Academic Performance Index, comparable LAUSD schools in the same communities scored, on average, only 560 points. Green Dot has also opened ten successful charter schools in some of the highest-need areas of Los Angeles, including schools such as Oscar De La Hoya Animo and Animo South Los Angeles.
All Green Dot Schools employ “Six Tenets of High Performing Schools” as essential instruments of their success: 1) Small, Safe, Personalized Schools; 2) High Expectations; 3) Local Control; 4) Parent Participation; 5) Get Every Dollar into the Classroom; and 6) Keep Schools Open Later.
The Broad Foundation, established by Eli and Edythe Broad in 1999 to “dramatically improve K-12 urban public education through better governance, management, labor relations and competition,” emphasizes philanthropic entrepreneurship and innovation, and previously awarded $2.8 million to Green Dot in 2004. Green Dot has also received support for its expansion from the Wasserman Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Foundation Leaders Prefer Program Support Over Operating Support
The Center for Effective Philanthropy recently found that nearly half (49 percent) of foundation leaders prefer giving grantees program support over operating support.
The center reports that although there is a general consensus among foundation CEOs that operating support is most effective—and more effective than program support in “creating impact on and encouraging sustainability of grantee organizations”—many CEOs believe they have to focus on promoting accountability, engaging their trustees, and “establishing a clear connection between their funding and specific results.”
The center’s 30-page report, “In Search of Impact: Practices and Perceptions in Foundations’ Provision of Program and Operating Grants to Nonprofits,” can be viewed in full at: www.effectivephilanthropy.org.