The booming Texas economy and the burgeoning ranks of Big Rich inspired a massive show of generosity in 1999, with major gifts totaling more than $340 million. Many were directed to the arts, like the new performing arts center planned for Austin; some went to health organizations like Memorial Hermann Healthcare System in Houston. But overwhelmingly, the beneficiaries of this pre-Y2K largesse were schools—and not just universities. In the midst of a major capital campaign, St. Mark’s School of Texas in Dallas corralled more than $20 million, mostly from alumni and their parents. Talk about your class acts.
The criteria for inclusion in our roundup of the year’s top philanthropists remain the same:
• We list only gifts of at least $1 million made between January 1 and December 31.
• We don’t count corporate gifts, so we can’t recognize the good works of the SBC Foundation, the charitable arm of San Antonio’s SBC Communications, which was named the nation’s sixth-most-generous corporate foundation by Worth.
• We don’t count gifts in which the giver’s identity wasn’t revealed—and there were many in 1999, from $14.5 million to endow scholarships at Texas Tech University, in Lubbock, to $2 million to improve the design of a bridge that will be built in Dallas. (More than $3 million of St. Mark’s total was given anonymously.)
• We list only givers whose primary residence is in Texas.
• Finally, we include only living givers. Deceased donors like Sally C. Harrington Jackson of Dallas, whose estate bequeathed $10 million to Juliette Fowler Homes, don’t make the cut. Of course, we’re grateful just the same.