Every year the Chronicle of Philanthropy releases its list of the most generous donors. In 2011, the single largest donor was someone who has not been alive since 2006. Margaret Cargill, heiress to one of the nation’s largest private companies, gave two different charitable organizations $6 billion to split between them.
If you have never heard of Ms. Cargill before, it’s quite understandable. Though Cargill has been the nation’s largest privately held company for 11 of the past 13 years, it is not a widely known or a household name. The company produces various agricultural related products, such as food and fertilizer, and had a nearly $110 billion in revenue in 2011.
While Ms. Cargill died in 2006, she did not have any children and left her entire fortune to two different charitable foundations. However, she left it as shares of stock in her family’s company. It wasn’t until last year that the foundations could capitalize on the stock because Cargill sold public shares of one of the companies that it had an interest in. The sale amounted to about 2.8 billion, which will be split between the foundations. The remaining funds will not be able to be distributed to the foundation until 2013 when they can sell the remaining shares.
Among the other more well-known philanthropists of 2011, Microsoft’s co-founder Paul Allen, mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg, and financier George Soros, are also in the top 10.