One of the most powerful couples in philanthropy split up last year, but that didn’t put a stop to their joint charitable activities. Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates made the largest single donation of 2021 with a $15 billion gift to their namesake private foundation, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s ranking of 2021’s largest donations.

Two $500 million gifts tied for the No. 2 spot. One was from Nike NKE, -1.20% co-founder Phil Knight and his wife Penny to the University of Oregon. The other was from George Soros, through his Open Society Foundation, to Bard College.

The No. 3 donation was a $480 million gift to Northwestern University from Patrick Ryan, founder of the insurance brokerage Ryan Specialty Group, and his wife. The gift was the largest in Northwestern’s history, according to the university. It was announced two months after Ryan Specialty Group’s RYAN, -2.08% initial public offering.

The list of big donations also included Amazon AMZN, +2.21% founder Jeff Bezos’ $200 million donation to the National Air and Space Museum, and a $166 million donation from Bezos’ parents to NYU Langone Hospital Brooklyn.

Higher education and health care are often among the top charitable causes for wealthier households.

There’s an important caveat to the Chronicle’s ranking. It only includes donations that donors announced publicly. Other money could have been donated anonymously or through vehicles that hide donors’ identities, such as donor-advised funds.

See also:5 reasons why the Bill and Melinda Gates divorce is an ‘earthquake’ for philanthropy

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