A woman with strong family business links has topped the list of the most generous American donors in 2011, despite dying in 2006.
Margaret Cargill, an heiress of agribusiness Cargill, donated about $6 billion (€4.56 billion) last year, according to figures from the Chronicle of Philanthropy.
This figure far exceeded the amount given by the second person on the list – the late William Dietrich, who gave $500 million.
Cargill, who was relatively unknown throughout her life, inherited about a sixth of the family business, founded by her grandfather William Wallace Cargill. She had no children and left all of her fortune to two charitable organisations when she died aged 85.
However, the Anne Ray Charitable Trust and Margaret A Cargill Foundation struggled at first to liquidate the heiress’s stock, because the company is completely privately held.
This changed last year, when Cargill sold its majority stake in the Mosaic Company, a publicly traded business – “officials at the nonprofits were able to exchange the private Cargill stock for public Mosaic stock”, said the Chronicle of Philanthropy.
Dietrich, who died in October, also owes his fortune to his family business links – he was chairman of Dietrich Industries, the company his father founded, until it was sold in 1996.
Others on the list with strong family business associations include William Koch, who sold his shares in Koch Industries to his brothers in the 1980s, and David and Joan Lincoln, heirs to the Lincoln Electric Company fortune.
New entries in the top 10 include Raymond and Ruth Perelman, David and Dana Dornsife, Robert and Dorothy King, Arthur and Margaret Glasgow, and John and Julia Mork.
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, George Soros and Michael Bloomberg also featured on the list.