Some of the richest people in the world gave away record sums to charity last year, making 2017 one of the strongest for philanthropy in over 10 years.

Three donations topped US$1 billion ($1.3b) or more, according to data compiled by US magazine Chronicle, which produces an annual top 10 list of the largest charitable gifts announced by individuals or their foundations.

The 10 biggest gifts in 2017 totalled US$10.2b, more than double the amount in 2016, when the figure was around the US$4.3b mark, according to the Daily Telegraph.

The biggest donation of last year came from, perhaps unsurprisingly, the richest person in the world – Bill Gates, who has a net worth of US$86b, according to Forbes.

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The Microsoft founder and his wife Melinda gave company stock valued at around US$4.6b to their private Gates Foundation, which aims to enhance healthcare and reduce poverty around the world, as well as improve the US education system.

Facebook co-founder and fifth richest man in the world Mark Zuckerberg, and his wife Priscilla Chan, were the second most generous philanthropists last year.

They gave their Chan Zuckerberg Foundation, a nonprofit arm of their Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, just under £2b ($3.7b). The company's aim is to "advance human potential and promote equality in areas such as health, education, scientific research and energy".

It wasn't just foundations that received the bulk of last year's charitable donations. University medical centres and a conservation group also received funding.

Top 10 largest charitable donations in 2017:

1. Bill and Melinda Gates - US$4.6b to Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
2. Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan - US$1.19b to Chan Zuckerberg Foundation
3. Michael and Susan Dell - US$1b to Michael & Susan Dell Foundation
4. Henry Hillman - US$800m to Hillman Family Foundations
5. Florence Irving - US$600m to Columbia University Herbert and Florence Irving Medical Center, and New York-Presbyterian Columbia University Irving Medical Center
6. Helen Diller Foundation - US$500m to University of California at San Francisco
7. Roy and Diana Vagelos - US$250m to Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
8. A. James and Alice B. Clark Foundation - US$219.5m to University of Maryland
9. Henry and Susan Samueli - US$200m to University of California at Irvine
10. Jack and Laura Dangermond - US$165m to Nature Conservancy