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Report: Large donations to charities on the rise

SEATTLE — Money donated by the nation’s most charitable people is starting to catch up with prerecession giving, thanks in part to some very large bequests from a few donors.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports Monday in its annual report of the nation’s most generous people that the top 50 donors made pledges in 2011 to give a total of $10.4 billion.

The donors gave a total of $3.3 billion in 2010, the smallest total since the Chronicle began tracking the biggest donors in 2000. A decade ago, the top 50 givers gave $12.5 billion.

Two people are conspicuously absent from the top 50 list this year: Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. That’s because the Chronicle doesn’t include payments on gifts promised in past years in its spreadsheet of top givers. Both Mr. Gates and Mr. Buffett made large payments on past pledges in 2011.

It took gifts totaling at least $26 million to make the list this year. People on the list gave a median of $61 million in 2011, compared to $39.6 million in 2010. Twenty-nine of the top 50 gave $50 million or more.

Nineteen made big gifts to colleges, including 10 multimillion-dollar gifts to universities that were not the donors’ alma maters.

Ten of the top 50 made the list because of bequests after their death. The Chronicle notes that 379 of the Forbes 400 wealthiest Americans did not report making any big charitable gifts.

MISSOURI

Teen describes killing of girl as ‘ahmazing,’ ‘pretty enjoyable’

JEFFERSON CITY — A Missouri teenager who admitted stabbing, strangling and slitting the throat of a young neighbor girl wrote in her journal on the night of the killing that it was an “ahmazing” and “pretty enjoyable” experience, then headed off to church with a laugh.

The words written by Alyssa Bustamante were read aloud in court Monday as part of a sentencing hearing to determine whether she should get life in prison or something less for the October 2009 murder of her neighbor, 9-year-old Elizabeth Olten, in a small town west of Jefferson City.

Bustamante, 18, sat silently, occasionally glancing at those testifying about her, often looking down or to the side, as law enforcement officers, attorneys and forensics experts read aloud her innermost thoughts that she had recorded as a 15-year-old high school sophomore.

The most poignant part of Monday’s testimony came when a handwriting expert described how he was able to see through the blue ink that Bustamante had used in an attempt to cover up her original journal entry on the night of Elizabeth’s murder. He then read the entry aloud in court:

“I just f–– killed someone. I strangled them and slit their throat and stabbed them now they’re dead. I don’t know how to feel atm. It was ahmazing. As soon as you get over the “ohmygawd I can’t do this” feeling, it’s pretty enjoyable. I’m kinda nervous and shaky though right now. Kay, I gotta go to church now … lol.”

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