Okay, so they’re not Ted Turner. But even if the Texans on the following pages didn’t give a billion dollars to the United Nations, their acts of generosity deserve our gratitude.
In compiling our list, we tried to be as complete as possible. Philanthropy—thankfully—refuses to conform to anyone’s ideas of how, when, and where to give, so it’s hard to be definitive. But we consulted an array of sources. We did extensive research using public records, online databases, and press releases. When we could, we talked to the givers or their representatives. We searched The Chronicle of Philanthropy and the archives of the Foundation Center, which tracks foundation giving. We reviewed annual reports published by the American Association of Fundraising Counsel. And we pored over all the recent compilations of gifts, including those in Forbes, Fortune, The American Benefactor, and Slate magazines.
To compile our honor roll of donors, we used these “rules of the chase,” as Forbes calls them in its annual list of the wealthiest Americans:
• Every list needs boundaries, and ours has two: We counted only gifts made recently, which we defined as since June 1995, and we counted only major gifts,