Bill and Melinda Gates top Forbes list as most philanthropic Americans

The co-founder of Microsoft and his wife donated $2.65 billion last year in an effort to combat deadly diseases around the world.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
3 min read

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Microsoft co-founder and chairman Bill Gates CBS

Bill and Melinda Gates have taken the No. 1 spot on Forbes' list of the 50 top givers in America.

Ranking the most philanthropic people across the country, Forbes singled out the Gates couple, who donated $2.65 billion last year toward fighting disease and reforming education, among other initiatives. One notable gift cited by Forbes was $50 million dollars given by the pair to the International Aids Vaccine Initiative. Over their lifetime, the two have given out $30.2 billion, about 37 percent of their net worth.

The couple coordinate their efforts through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which works with other people to donate money and resources on trying to solve a select number of global problems and concerns.

"Mr. and Mrs. Microsoft continue to combat malaria, polio and other diseases abroad while working to reform education in the U.S. Major donations went to the World Health Organization, the Medicines for Malaria Venture and the U.S. fund for UNICEF," Forbes said.

Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was No. 5 on the list of the nation's top givers. In 2013, Zuckerberg donated $991 million toward education and healthcare. In total, the Facebook chief has donated 1.5 billion over his lifetime, representing 4 percent of his net worth. One donation reported by Forbes was $991 million given to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, which makes grants across more than 40 different countries.

Zuckerman's charitable donations for 2013 came in the form of Facebook stock and was twice the amount he gave in 2012.

At No. 8 on the list were Intel co-founder Gordon Moore and his wife Betty. The two donated $321 million last year and have given out $2.6 billion in total, 37 percent of their net worth. One notable donation was $25 million to the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center.

"The Intel co-founder and his wife's foundation gave $2.2 million to Vanderbilt University to study nursing-workforce needs and $2.9 million to the Ocean Conservancy," Forbes said. "It also helped $37.8 million, five-year data and science partnership among three universities.

eBay founder and chairman Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pamela took the 10th spot in the list. A foundation run by the two "promotes education, financial inclusion, property rights, government transparency and Internet access," Forbes said. In 2013, the pair donated $294 million. In total, they've given out $1 billion.

Which other tech players made the list?

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen was cited for its 2013 charitable giving of $206 million, with an organization called Elephants Without Borders receiving $7 million. With his wife Susan, Dell founder Michael Dell donated $100 million last year, with half of that going toward his alma mater, the University of Texas. And Larry Ellison, who recently stepped down as CEO of Oracle, donated $54 million in 2013, with $20 million going toward the fight to stamp out polio.

To compile the list, Forbes teamed up with Philanthropic Research Institute of Boca Raton, Florida, to rank the Americans who gave the most money to charity last year. To come up with the top 50, PRI whittled down the list to almost 530 semifinalists from a total of 1,375 philanthropists.