Go big or go home seems to be Warren Buffett's mantra when it comes to philanthropy.
The Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-A - News) CEO and legendary investor made the single biggest charitable donation this year, giving $2.1 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in the form of 16.6 million shares of his company, according to Wealth-X's ranking of the 10 largest philanthropic donations of 2014 published on Wednesday.
On Monday, 84-year-old Buffett surpassed Mexican business mogul Carlos Slim to become the world's second richest person as shares of Berkshire Hathaway rallied to an all-time high. Forbes said its real-time ranking of the world's billionaires now estimates Buffett's wealth at $74.4 billion, about $1.5 billion more than Slim's $72.9 billion. Slim is now in third place.
Founder and CEO of GoPro (NASDAQ:GPRO - News) Nicholas Woodman's $497.5 million donation to Silicon Valley Community Foundation ranked second. The Foundation connects corporate and individual donors with Bay Area nonprofits, with a focus on areas such as education, affordable housing and immigrant integration.
HK billionaire brothers set record
Eight of the top 10 donations of 2014 were made by American philanthropists. Hong Kong property tycoons Ronnie and Gerald Chan are the only non-Americans to feature on the list.
The Chan brothers each donated $175 million to Harvard University's School of Public Health, ranking them in third and fourth place. The combined $350 million gift was the largest donation in the University's 378-year history.
In a rare move for the university, the school was renamed to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. There is only one other school within the university that is named after an individual in modern times, according to the Associate Press: Harvard Kennedy School, named for John F. Kennedy.
Harvard also received a $150 million donation from hedge fund manager Kenneth Griffin to support financial aid in what was the fifth largest charitable donation this year.
Universities win big time
The remainder of top 10 donations were also made to education institutions.
University of Notre Dame received the largest single donation in the school's history from private equity investor John "Jay" Jordan, who donated $75 million this year.
Advertising executive turned investor Edward Meyer gave a $75 million gift to Weill Cornell Medical College. The donation will expand the medical college's cancer care and research programs.
Charles Munger, the vice-chairman of Berkshire Hathaway known as Warren Buffett's right-hand man, was also very much in the spirit of giving, donating $65 million to University of California Santa Barbara to support the growth of its theoretical physics department.
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