WASHINGTON -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, gave the largest gift to charity in 2013, nearly $1 billion, according to a new tally of the top 10 gifts by the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

The analysis of the top gifts found that charity made a comeback last year, with the nation's wealthiest donors giving more than $3.4 billion to charity. In addition, there were more gifts of $100 million and up than in 2012; in 2013, there were 15 publicly announced gifts of at least $100 million, compared with 11 in 2012.

Charles B. Johnson, the recently retired chairman of the board of San Mateo-based investment management firm Franklin Resources, was No. 4, with a $250 million donation to Yale.

South Bay developer John Arrillaga came in at No. 7 in the annual list, with a $151 million pledge to Stanford.

Zuckerberg and Chan announced in December that they had given 18 million shares of Facebook stock to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The gift was valued at more than $990 million. This was the first time donors under the age of 30 have made the nation's largest philanthropic gift, according to the report.

The donation is "by far the largest gift in our history," Emmett Carson, CEO of the Mountain View-based foundation, said at the time. Carson declined to say how the money will be used, but added: "We believe this gift will immensely improve the lives of people here and elsewhere."

Along with receiving donations and making direct grants to charities, the community foundation advises a number of wealthy individuals on philanthropic giving. It offers a variety of custom services, such as administering charitable funds on an individual's behalf.

Zuckerberg has made headline-grabbing gifts to charity before. He gave a similar-sized block of stock to the foundation last year, although the shares were worth only about $500 million at the time, because Wall Street was less enthusiastic about the company then. The value of that donation has more than doubled, as Facebook's booming advertising business has caused its stock to soar.

As part of its work with Zuckerberg, the foundation helped oversee his pledge of $100 million to improve public schools in Newark, N.J., which he announced in 2010. It also channeled his contribution to the multimillion-dollar series of "Breakthrough Prize" awards for math and science research, which Zuckerberg has funded jointly with other tech luminaries.

Zuckerberg signed on three years ago to the "Giving Pledge" campaign, promoted by billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, in which wealthy individuals vow to give at least half their assets to philanthropy over the course of their lives.

The Facebook CEO and his wife have said they are interested in causes related to education and health.

Colleges and universities were among the primary beneficiaries of some of the nation's biggest donations, the report found.

Nike co-founder and Chairman Philip Knight and his wife, Penelope, made the second-largest gift commitment of 2013, pledging $500 million to the Oregon Health and Science University Foundation for cancer research. The university has to match the donation in the next two years to receive the full gift.

The third highest gift of 2013 was a $350 million pledge from Michael Bloomberg to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore to promote cross-disciplinary studies and undergraduate financial aid.

Johnson's gift to Yale was the largest in the school's history. He is a 1954 graduate of Yale College.

Arrillaga's gift to Stanford is the largest gift ever from a single living person, the university said at the time.

It is not the first philanthropic record made by the Silicon Valley real estate developer, who attended Stanford on a basketball scholarship and graduated in 1960. Arrillaga gave the university $100 million in 2006 -- then the largest donation of its kind -- and his family's name appears on buildings all over campus: Arrillaga Family Sports Center, the Arrillaga Center for Sports and Recreation, the Frances C. Arrillaga Alumni Center and the Arrillaga Family Dining Commons.

"John is a true friend to Stanford, combining extraordinary generosity with unwavering service, " said a statement from university President John Hennessy when the gift was announced in July.

Other top gifts by American philanthropists were pledged to the University of Michigan, Yeshiva University in New York City, Georgetown University, Columbia Business School, the University of California at San Diego and Tsinghua University in Beijing.

After years of sluggish philanthropy, the upward trend provides a positive outlook for the nation's nonprofits, said Chronicle of Philanthropy Editor Stacy Palmer.

"People seem more optimistic about the economy, and certainly the strong stock market has propelled a lot of gifts," Palmer said, adding that she expected this year to be even better.

In 2012, the top gifts totaled $5 billion, but that tally included three $1 billion gifts from Warren Buffett to his children's foundations. When those gifts are excluded, the other top gifts of 2012 totaled just $2 billion compared with $3.4 billion in 2013. However, the wealthiest philanthropists did not give as much in 2013 as before the Great Recession, according to the analysis. In 2007, before the recession, the biggest gifts totaled $4.1 billion.

Staff writers Brandon Bailey and Katy Murphy and The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Biggest Gifts
Here are the top 10 philanthropic gifts of 2013, according to a report from the Chronicle of Philanthropy. The list includes 15 gifts, including six at the $100 million level that tied for No. 10.
1. Mark Zuckerberg: $992.2 million to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation
2. Phil Knight: $500 million pledge to the Oregon Health and Science University Foundation
3. Michael Bloomberg: $350 million pledge to Johns Hopkins University
4. Charles B. Johnson: $250 million pledge to Yale University
5. Stephen Ross: $200 million pledge to University of Michigan
6. Muriel Block: $160 million bequest to Yeshiva University
7. John Arrillaga: $151 million pledge to Stanford University
8. Irwin Jacobs: $133 million pledge to Cornell NYC Tech
9. Charles Munger: $110 million pledge to University of Michigan
10. David Koch: $100 million pledge to New York-Presbyterian Hospital
Frank McCourt: $100 million pledge to Georgetown University
Ronald Perelman: $100 million pledge to Columbia Business School
T. Denny Sanford: $100 million pledge to University of California at San Diego
Stephen Schwarzman: $100 million pledge to Tsinghua University in Beijing
Deborah Joy Simon: $100 million pledge to Mercersburg Academy