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Return of the Mega-Gift

May 13, 2011

Charity-donation-gift-benjamins The announcement earlier this week of a $225 million gift from Raymond and Ruth Pereleman to the University of Pennsylvania's School of Medicine confirms what many have been saying for a while now: the Great Recession, for the mega-wealthy at any rate, is history.

The gift from the Perelemans is, to the best of our knowledge, the eighth nine-figure gift announced by an individual, couple, or family foundation since January 1. Here are links to info about the others:

And that's not counting a $150 million gift to the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston from Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayad Al Nahyan; a $100 million gift to Western Michigan University from a group of donors that wished to remain anonymous; or a $100 million endowment gift to Teach for America from philanthropists Steve and Sue Mandel and the Eli and Edythe Broad, Laura and John Arnold, and Robertson foundations.

In addition, there have been at least a dozen eight-figure gifts (more info here, here, and here) and three eight-figure bequests. And we're not even a full five months into the year.

What's going on?

Have the efforts of the Fed to target asset prices and gin up the "wealth effect" through quantitative easing succeeded beyond Chairman Bernanke's wildest dreams? Is the Giving Pledge having more of an impact than perhaps many of us thought? Could it be a tangible manifestation of the intergenerational transfer of wealth we've all been told to expect? Could it be related to recent and/or anticipated changes in tax policy? All of the above?

Would love to hear what others think...

-- Mitch Nauffts

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