One thing that became clear has 2014 unfolded is that the Great Recession is a thing of the past, at least for the super-wealthy. Of course, that was also evident in 2013, but that reality became even more pronounced this year, with Forbes reporting that the combined net worth of the Forbes 400 has nearly doubled since 2009.
Which explains why, among other things, these folks are giving to health causes as if it were 2007.
We covered many of the biggest gifts as they happened, and the interesting thing has been of the mix of familiar and unfamiliar names among the top givers.
Some big givers, like Ernest Rady to T. Denny Sanford or Marc and Lynne Beinoff, were already known for their big healthcare gifts. But then there's been total dark horses, like Dennis and Carol Troesch, who cracked $100 million with their gift to Loma Linda University Health.
And therein lies a big reminder of how much philanthropy is in flux these days. Thousands of Americans have the capacity to make eight- or even nine-figure gifts, and many of these people are barely known. The Forbes 400 now excludes many billionaires who don't make the current cutoff of $1.5 billion to be on the list, and nobody tracks and spotlights those people whose fortunes are only in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Given all this, it's no wonder when big givers emerge seemingly out of nowhere.
Here are nine health gifts that topped $50 million in 2014, along with links to our coverage.
1. $650 million pledge to Broad Institute from Ted Stanley, founder of MBI. The gift will fund psychiatric disorder research at Broad Institute, a biomedical and genomic research center that is a partner to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University and Harvard's five teaching hospitals. In 2007, Mr. Stanley gave $175 million to the institute to create the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research.
2. $125 million pledge to Sanford Health from T. Denny Stanford, chairman of the United National Corporation, to create Sanford Imagenetics to help physicians develop custom-tailored treatment plans using patients’ genetic information.
3. $120 million pledge to Rady Children's Hospital Foundation from Ernest Rady, founder and chairman of San Diego-based real estate company American Assets. The gift will establish the Rady Pediatric Genomics and Systems Medicine Institute.
4. $100 million pledge to Loma Linda University Health from Dennis and Carol Troesh. Troesh founded Robertson's Ready Mix, which provides ready-mix concrete, and the gift will go toward building a new adult medical center and a tower for the children’s hospital, as well as an interdisciplinary research hub.
5. $100 million to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center from Henry R. and Marie Josée Kravis. Mr. Kravis is a founding partner of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Company, and the gift will establish the Center for Molecular Oncology, where researchers and clinicians will use genetic analysis to match patients with the proper medicines.
6. $100 million pledge to UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital from Marc and Lynne Benioff. Mr. Benioff is the founder and CEO of salesforce.com, a Web-based computing company that specializes in customer relationship management, and the five-year gift will strengthen basic and clinical research and patient care. It will also benefit the hospital's affiliate, Children's Hospital and Research Center Oakland.
7. $50 million (estimated) gift to Foundation Fighting Blindness from Gordon Gund and his family. Mr. Gund is the CEO of Gund Investment Corporation, and the matching gift will support research into new methods for treating degenerative diseases of the retina and restoring vision.
8. $50 million pledge to NYU Langone Medical Center from Laura and Isaac Perlmutter. Mr. Perlmutter is chairman and former CEO of Marvel Entertainment, and the gift will go toward cancer research and treatment. The NYU Cancer Institute will be renamed the Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center.
9. $50 million pledge to UCSF from Gordon and Betty Irene Moore. Mr. Moore is co-founder and chairman emeritus of Intel, and the pledge will establish a women's hospital, which will be named after Mrs. Moore. Please note that this is a personal gift from the couple, not from the eponymous Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.