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slides: Oregon’s 10 Biggest Charitable Donors

Tuesday, December 09, 2014


Ten Oregon residents gave over $64 million together in charitable donations in 2014, with education receiving most of the funds, according to an analysis by the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

At the top of the donor list was Phil Knight, CEO of Nike. Others frontrunners were Don and Willie Tykeson, former owners of the telecommunication company BendBroadbend, and Robert Sanders, owner of Sanders Wood Products. 

See Below: Oregon's 10 Biggest Charitable Donors Slideshow

Oregon was recently ranked as the 9th most charitable state in the nation by WalletHub. The analysis also found there was only a 28.78 percent difference between people who said they would donate versus people who actually gave. 

There are many reasons why individuals donate money to any institution, according to Bill Harbaugh, Economic Professor at the University of Oregon. One is because they genially care about organizations, which is why education and health care institutions are usually high on donation lists. They also donate for recognition, such as getting their name on a building. 

However, giving also benefits the donor mentally, according to research by Harbaugh. When people give away money, it activates the same part of the brain stimulated when a person receives an award.  

“It’s a basic neural mechanism at work,” Harbaugh said. “Giving money to a good cause makes people feel good—a warm-glow feeling.”

Tax Breaks

Oregon’s tax incentives also encourage donations. The state has a relatively high income tax, which creates a greater incentive for donation deductions, according to Jack Bogdanski, a tax law professor at Lewis and Clark Law School. Deductions are something wealthy individuals think about, Bogdanski said. 

However, for a donation to count toward a tax deduction it must be itemized, Bogdanski said, which means many people’s donations do not count towards deductions.  

“The tax system tries to help and encourage donations, but the little guy doesn’t have an incentive,” Bogdanski said. 

All but two of the top Oregon donors gave to colleges and universities. The University of Oregon received the most, with three-top donors giving a combined total of $28 million to the school this year. 

Harbaugh thought part of the reason universities see numerous donations is because they actively pursue them. 

The University of Portland showed up twice on the list as a recipient. Laurie Kelley, Vice President of University Relations at the University of Portland, said the donations had a meaningful impact on the school. 

“Donations are incredibly crucial for us to do anything new,” Kelley said. “Donations and gifts make it possible to initiate new programs, give scholarships and provide new opportunities we wouldn’t have without generous benefactors.”


Related Slideshow: Oregon’s 10 Biggest Charitable Donors

What Oregon residents have given the largest charitable donations so far this year? The Chronicle of Philanthropy listed the biggest single donations by Oregon Residents of $1 million or more in 2014. Check out who gave the most and to whom. 

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Gordon Sondland and Katherine Durant

Recipient: Oregon Health & Science University Foundation in Portland, Oregon

Use of Funds: Annual cancer-research summit

Amount: $1,000,000

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Junki and Linda Yoshida

Recipient: Mt. Hood Community College Foundation in Gresham, Oregon

Use of Funds: Gift

Amount: $1,000,000

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Elizabeth James

Recipient: University of Portland

Use of Funds: Support the Clark Library and scholarships for students in the Pamplin School of Business

Amount: $1,350,000

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John Picchetti

Recipient: St. Charles Foundation in Bend, Oregon

Use of Funds: Unrestricted bequest 

Amount: $1,800,000

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Sue Davison Cooley

Recipient: Wilson College in Pennsylvania

Use of Funds: Renovate the library 

Amount: $2,300,000

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Jim Berchtold and Amy Dundon-Berchtold

Recipient: University of Portland

Use of Funds: Endowment for the Dundon-Berchtold Fund for Moral Development and Applied Ethics to provide operating funds and to hire a director

Amount: $4,000,000

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Lorry I. Lokey

Recipient: University of Oregon in Eugene

Use of Funds: New science commons and research library

Amount: $8,000,000

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Robert Sanders

Recipient: University of Oregon in Eugene

Use of Funds: New softball stadium

Amount: $10,000,000

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Don and Willie Tykeson

Recipient: University of Oregon in Eugene

Use of Funds: Construct the College and Careers Building to house the College of Arts and Sciences

Amount: $10,000,000

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Phil and Penny Knight

Recipient: Providence Health and Services in Portland, Oregon

Use of Funds: New cardiovascular center at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center

Amount: $25,000,000


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