In total, the top 50 U.S. donors gave to charity $7.7 billion last year, up 4 percent from the previous year, helped by a surge on Wall Street.
Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan had given away 18 million shares of Facebook stock, valued at some $992 million, to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, the Chronicle of Philanthropy noted, while the pair over the past two years have given away shares worth up to $1.5 billion.
Zuckerberg, who turns 30 later this year, is the youngest benefactor ever to top the magazine's annual charitable donations list. Some of the nation's biggest givers do not appear on the 2013 list, not because they stopped being generous, but because their donations in 2013 were counted as pledges in previous years.
For example, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda gave their foundation slightly more than $181.3 million last year, but they were paying off a pledge of about $3.3 billion they made in 2004.
CNN founder Ted Turner and Berkshire Hathaway chairman Warren Buffett also made large gifts toward previous pledges.
Below Zuckerberg and Chan on the 2013 was the estate of George Mitchell, an oil and gas executive who died in July. He bequeathed $750 million in total to his family’s foundation, which supports Texas-based nonprofit groups that work in clean energy and natural-gas sustainability.
Third on the list was Nike’s co-founder Phil Knight, who donated $500 million to the Oregon Health and Science University Foundation. Knight and his wife however added a stipulation that to keep the gift, the university match the $500 million over the next two years.
The Chronicle's editor said the most significant fact from the list was the amount of money coming from living donors, which totaled about the same amount as the two previous years combined.
"It's a sure sign that the economy is getting better and people are getting a lot less cautious," Chronicle editor Stacy Palmer told the Associated Press.
Leslie Lenkowsky, a professor of philanthropy and public works at Indiana University in Bloomington, also noted that age and experience also played an important role in the amount of donations.