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Monday, January 26, 2009

Money, Money, Money: S.F.'s Big Charitable Spenders

Posted By on Mon, Jan 26, 2009 at 12:16 PM

In these dire financial times, fewer of us have the opportunity to donate to charity (at least, that's what we keep telling ourselves). But some really, really rich people are more than capable of forking over large quantities of the stuff, as evidenced by Slate's list of the largest charitable donations of 2008 (as compiled by the Chronicle of Philanthropy). A huge chunk of the top donors are giving money from the grave, having established charitable trusts that still operate in their name. Top dog is Leona Helmsley, former owner of Park Merced, whose Helmsley Charitable Trust is worth $5.2 billion and designated solely to the "care and welfare of dogs." So how do the wealthy of soft-hearted, liberal San Francisco stack up?

Coming in at No. 34 is Lorry I. Lokey, a graduate of Stanford who founded local company Business Wire, which he sold for a tidy $500 million in 2006. His donations total $46.7 million, most of which went to the Stanford University Donor Advised Fund for stem-cell research center. Lokey decided to help fund stem cell research after the Bush administration failed to, and, in case you're wondering how he sleeps at night, George, it's ontop of a giant, fluffy pile of dead presidents, stacked atop a solid foundation of a rudimentary understanding of science.

Trailing only three behind at No. 37 are Michael Moritz and wife Harriet Hayman. Moritz is a venture capitalist who used to sit on the Google Board of Directors. Moritz, who is originally from Wales, and Hayman forked over $50 million to Moritz's alma mater, Oxford University. That's going to buy a lot of cricket wickets, or whatever.

Finally, John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn gave $40 million to the San Francisco Opera and Family and Children Services. (Only $25,000 went to Family and Children Services.) Cynthia was once the editor and director of the Stanford Portable book series, and John is the director of S.F.-based Dodge & Cox Funds -- which, according to its Web site, is "an investment firm emphasizing independent ownership, stability, and the high ethical standards of a true fiduciary." Translated from the rich-people jargon, this basically means "You will never be in need of our services, and please make sure you use soy in my latte."

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Andy Wright


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