Orange County hospitals and universities continued to benefit from an active year of giving in 2023.
This week’s Business Journal list of Largest Charitable Gifts list highlights 82 donations valued at $1 million or more directed toward OC-based groups last year.
On a combined basis, those gifts totaled nearly $429 million, down 9% from the year prior.
In 2023, there were eight gifts of $10 million or more, and three of $50 million or more.
No. 1 Gift
Topping the list is Panda Express founders Peggy and Andrew Cherng, who emigrated from Burma, which nowadays is called Myanmar.
The couple’s Panda Charitable Family Foundation donated $100 million to the City of Hope Orange County, the largest-ever gift in the cancer hospital’s century-long history.
Funds from the gift will be directed both to City of Hope’s Duarte base and its expanding campus in Irvine.
The funding deal, announced in September, helped create the Cherng Family Center for Integrative Oncology at City of Hope, a program focused on providing holistic therapies for cancer patients.
“With this transformative gift we’re able to accelerate this program that we’ve established even faster,” Edward Kim, physician-in-chief of City of Hope Orange County, told the Business Journal.
The oncology program has plans to expand its clinical services outside of Orange County to its other campuses in Chicago, Atlanta and Phoenix, according to Richard Lee, the Cherng Family Director’s Chair for the center.
Lee said the partnership came about at the “right place and right time” as City of Hope begins to establish itself as a leader in integrative oncology.
He said the oncology program is conducting multiple clinical trials and received a more than $3 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to study the potential harms and benefits of cannabis use in myeloma patients.
Hospitals remained top of mind for many notable donors last year.
Hoag Hospital Foundation received the second-largest gift on the list, tied with the University of California, Irvine, for $50 million from longtime Newport Beach philanthropist Richard H. Pickup to establish the Richard H. Pickup Center for Brain Health.
“Hoag is making great strides in the understanding of brain health and Alzheimer’s disease,” Pickup, who has backed other Hoag initiatives over the years, said in a statement.
Six of the 10 largest gifts went to universities in the area, including UCI and Chapman University.
For the third straight year, UCI led the donor list, receiving 17 donations of $1 million or more, totaling $114 million.
The school received $50 million from the Samueli Foundation to launch three new research institutes under the banner of “Engineering+” for the Henry Samueli School of Engineering.
“Susan and Henry Samueli’s generous gift will establish the Engineering+ research institutes, empowering multidisciplinary teams to address key global challenges in health, society and the environment,” Magnus Egerstedt, dean of the school of engineering, told the Business Journal.
The Samuelis’ donation will also help establish the Office of Inreach, which will be dedicated to supporting the well-being, academic success and career development of undergraduate students.
Chapman received the second greatest number of gifts in 2023: 14 for a total of $48 million, including a $10 million gift from Julie and George Argyros to elevate Chapman’s business school to the Argyros College of Business and Economics.
“The incredible generosity of our donors helps ensure that Chapman continues its momentum as a top-tier university committed to academic excellence,” Chapman President Daniele Struppa told the Business Journal.
Chapman has made significant headway in its Inspire fundraising campaign, which has a goal of raising $500 million by 2028. It has raised $368 million to date, according to the school’s top officials.