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January 2, 2007

Are Americans becoming more charitable?

Posted by Kristi Heim at 11:56 AM

Well, some are. But the list of the top 15 donors of 2006 includes only one person from the world of technology -- and an unlikely one -- Oracle CEO Larry Ellison.

Warren Buffett's record $31 billion donation to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation enormously expanded the pool of charitable giving in the U.S. last year. The top 15 charitable gifts totaled $35 billion in 2006, this story points out. Last year that figure was only $2 billion.

Besides Buffett, more people donated amounts exceeding $100 million than ever before. The top donors made their fortunes in real estate and financial services.

As for Ellison, who has a reputation for stinginess despite his $16 billion estimated net worth, the donation went to his Ellison Medical Foundation, not to, ah, Harvard.

Ellison pledged to donate to charity to settle a lawsuit against him.

But hey it's not the amount of money that should be measured, Ellison says, it's the results. Maybe his medical foundation will find a cure for dementia before he changes his mind again.

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Tricia Duryee
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Kristi Heim
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