Donor gives $100m

A community foundation in a small American city has received a donation of $100m (£48.8m) from a donor, on condition that it keeps his identity secret. It is the largest anonymous contribution to a community foundation in the nation's history.

The president of the Erie Community Foundation, Mike Batchelor, said discussions with the donor had been progressing for 10 years about which charities should benefit in the Pennsylvania city, which has a population of 100,000. He said 46 local and five “out of town” non-profit groups had been designated, including universities, religious groups and health and welfare organisations.

Each charity will receive up to $2m over three years from 2009. The grants will be unrestricted but the donor expressed a strong preference that the charities should use the money to create endowments. For most of the charities, the gift is expected to be the largest they will ever receive.

The rust-belt city used to be a major manufacturing centre but has suffered from many factory closures in recent years. Batchelor said: “This will literally change our community forever. It’s an unbelievable infusion of capital into the non-profit sector.”

A spokeswoman for New Philanthropy Capital, which advises rich donors in the UK on how to make the most of their donations, said she was not surprised by the anonymity clause. “It is a myth that most large donors want their names up in lights,” she said. “Most of our donors come to us because they want to give anonymously.”

She said the biggest anonymous donations NPC had dealt with was “easily a few hundred thousand”.

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