Last month, Slate and Chronicle of Philanthropy published their annual ranking of top donors of 2008. Most gave only after their death.

So, apparently the only people who aren’t panicky about their financial futures are people who don’t have financial futures.

“Some of the country’s richest philanthropists say the bleak economy is causing them to put off making new gifts, and fundraisers already are noticing a dip in eight- and nine-figure donations,” said Stacy Palmer, editor of The Chronicle of Philanthropy, which has tracked and published this data since 2000, and also provides the data and reporting used to compile the Slate 60 list.  “What’s different about this recession as compared to the last few is that it is affecting charitable donations of all kinds, not just those by the poor and middle class.”

Here is a clip from the press release:

“In the 13 years we’ve published the Slate 60 list, this is the first time a majority of the top donors have come from estates,” said David Plotz , editor of Slate. “Regardless, we continue to be inspired by the charitable donations the list recognizes and hope our readers are, too.”

Perhaps the Nonprofiteer would be more inspired if the largest gift wasn’t Leona Helmsley’s charitable trust for her dog.  But of course that, too, explains the uptick in giving by dead people: they don’t have to listen to other people’s carping about what they should have done with their money.

imageKelly Kleiman, who blogs as The Nonprofiteer, is a lawyer and freelance journalist whose reportage and essays about the arts, philanthropy and women’s issues have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor and other dailies; in magazines including In These Times and Chicago Philanthropy; and on websites including and