When it comes to generosity, Warren Buffett has no peers

Even in these troubled financial times, the holidays put many people in a giving mood. BusinessWeek magazine, however, likes to recognize sustained giving in compiling its annual ranking of the 50 most generous philanthropists. On the basis of gifts and pledges over a five-year period, billionaire Warren Buffett is far and away the leader, his $40-plus billion in contributions leaving his good friends Bill and Melinda Gates as distant runners-up. In fact, Buffett has been BusinessWeek's most generous giver for three years running. The Top 10 philanthropists with the billions of dollars each has given, and the source of his or her wealth:

  • 1. Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. $40.6
  • 2. Bill and Melinda Gates, Microsoft Corp. cofounder and his wife $2.6
  • 3. George Kaiser, oil and gas, banking, real estate $2.4
  • 4. George Soros, investor $2.2
  • 5. William Barron Hilton, heir and former chief executive of Hilton Hotels Corp. $1.7
  • 6. Walton family, heirs of Wal-Mart founder $1.4
  • 7. Herbert and Marion Sandler, Golden West Financial Corp. cofounders $1.3
  • 8. Peter Peterson, Blackstone Group cofounder $1.2
  • 9. Donald Bren, real estate $0.9
  • 10. Michael Bloomberg, Bloomberg founder, New York mayor $0.9
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