Amount donated in 2011: Approximately $6-billion
Beneficiaries: Anne Ray Charitable Trust and Margaret A. Cargill Foundation

Donor’s background: Ms. Cargill was an heir to the Cargill Corporation fortune. The business was established by her grandfather, William Wallace Cargill, in 1865 and has grown to become one of the largest private companies, with interests in agricultural commodities, food production, and financial and industrial products and services.

No. 1: Margaret A. CargillMs. Cargill, who was 85 when she died in 2006, left all of her shares of Cargill stock to be split between the Anne Ray Charitable Trust and the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, in Eden Prairie, Minn. The amount the two nonprofits are set to receive from the bequest totals roughly $6-billion, but the way the payout is structured is complex.

Because Cargill remains a privately held company, officials at the foundation and the trust could not at first liquidate the private Cargill stock. But that changed last year when the conglomerate sold its 64-percent stake in a publicly traded business called the Mosaic Company. Once the company sold its stake in Mosaic, officials at the nonprofits were able to exchange the private Cargill stock for public Mosaic stock. Under this arrangement, the foundations ended up with about 114.5 million shares of Mosaic stock, which will eventually provide at least $6-billion to the trust and foundation....