Foreign Policy Blogs

Everybody Loves Lists

The Financial Times has published a list (registration required) of the top private charitable donations of 2007. William Barron Hilton takes the top spot by giving $1.2 billion to his father's foundation. The top ten were:

1. William Barron Hilton – $1200m
2. Jon M. Sr. and Karen H. Huntsman – $750m
3. T. Denny Sanford – $474.6m
4. George Soros – $474.6m
5. John W. Kluge – $400m
6. Sanford I. and Joan H. Weill – $328.5m
7. Michael R. Bloomberg – $205m
8. T. Boone Pickens – $200.8m
9. Robert Day – $200m
10. Eli and Edythe L. Broad – $176m

The list included both domestic and international charities of all types – university donations, scholarships, research projects, and NGO grants. The Chronicle of Philanthropy wrote an analysis of the giving. Twenty people gave more than $100 million, and overall funraisers considered it a strong year. The article got an interesting quote from Brookings's Gregg Easterbrook:

"You look at people who could give away half of what they possess and still be billionaires, but are hoarding for themselves ‚ these are people society ought to view in contempt, and not feel grateful for the crumbs from the table."

I don't know how I feel about that, on one hand he is right. The conspicuous, ridiculous wealth he mentions is shameful in light of global poverty. But it brings up the ancient question of where we should draw the line. Is it OK to be a billionaire? A millionaire? Is it OK to be a middle class American? I honestly don't know.



Kevin Dean

Kevin Dean is a graduate student pursuing a master's degree in international conflict management and humanitarian emergencies at Georgetown University. Before returning to school in Fall 2006, he spent six years working in the former Soviet Union - most of that time spent in Central Asia. He has managed a diverse range of international development programs for the US State Department and USAID. He has also consulted for several UN agencies and international NGOs, and is fluent in Russian. Kevin is originally from Des Moines, Iowa and studied Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies at the University of Iowa.