Facebook couple give away £591m

Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, were the most generous American philanthropists in 2013, figures show.

The Facebook chief and his wife made a donation of 18 million shares of Facebook stock valued at more than $970m (£591m) to a Silicon Valley non-profit organisation.

The donation was the largest charitable gifts on the public record in 2013, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, putting the young couple at the top of the magazine’s list of 50 most generous Americans in 2013.

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The top 50 contributors made donations last year totalling $7.7bn (£4.69bn), plus pledges of $2.9bn (£1.76bn).

Some of the nation’s biggest givers do not appear on the 2013 list, because their donations in 2013 were counted as pledges in previous years.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda, gave their foundation slightly more than $181.3m (£110m) last year, but they were paying off a pledge of about $3.3bn (£2bn) they made in 2004.

CNN founder Ted Turner and Berkshire Hathaway chairman Warren Buffett also made large gifts towards previous pledges.

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It took gifts totalling at least $37.5m (£22.8m) to make the list this year.

Forty-two of the top 50 made gifts of $50m (£30.4m) or more.

Ten of the 50 made the list because of bequests after their deaths, including the second biggest giver in 2013, George Mitchell, a Texas man who made his fortune through energy and real estate.

At number three were Nike chairman Philip Knight and his wife, Penelope, of Portland, Oregon, who made a $500m (£305m) challenge grant to Oregon Health & Science University Foundation for cancer research.

Number four was philanthropist and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, who made gifts totalling $452m (£275m).