Zuckerberg, Others Set Record in Charitable Donations as Economy Improves

Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is a leader in charitable giving as well as social media. Moreover, if an increase in charitable donations is a sign of improving economy, then 2013 was a very good year indeed, with Zukerberg the largest contributor. The top 50 donors pledges a total $7.7 billion, plus an additional in $2.9 billion. The total amount of money donated to charities in 2013 amounted to $316 billion, breaking the previous record of $311 billion.

Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan lead the charge in charitable giving in 2013, and they had plenty of company. According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, the amount donated in 2013 equaled the combined amount given in 2011 and 2012. Over 40 of those who made the top 50 list gave more than $50 million. Of the money actually paid, 46.2 million of it was given by living benefactors. The rest was bequeathed to charities via personal wills. Chronicle editor, Stacy Palmer states that such high dollar donations indicate greater confidence in the economy, and less caution.

The charities receiving the donations range from educational institutions to healthcare providers for low-income families. Zuckerberg and his wife made their contribution via the non-profit organization, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, which will disperse the money to various recipients.Other donors such as Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison donate via similar agencies.Some details about the 2013 donations are overall giving grew almost five percent in 2013, while online giving grew 13.5 percent. Large organizations had the greatest increase in overall charitable donations in 2013, while small organizations had the greatest increase in online giving.

Mark Zuckerberg and wife topped the list of donors by giving over $970 million last year, mostly in the form of 18 million shares. Microsoft founder and CEO Bill Gates and wife Melinda made a donation of more than $181.3 million last year, as part of 2004 pledge to give $3.3 billion. Warren Buffet of Berkshire Hathaway and CNN Founder Ted Turner of continued to make payments on previous years’ pledges. All of these contributions together amounted to the staggering donations last year.

What makes Zuckerberg unique among the donors, other than earning his wealth in a field not related to real estate or finance, is his age. He and his wife are both 29 years old. The couple’s generous donations, while in the prime of their youth has made an impact on Palmer who expects “more of that in coming years.” The median age of the 50 benefactors is 72.

An increase in charitable donations is a sign of both increased confidence in the economy, as well as an incentive for consumers to do business with certain companies like Oracle Facebook. 2013 saw record $316 billion in charitable giving. The year’s contribution beat the old record by almost $5 billion. Meanwhile a lot of corporations have realized that giving can be a source of attraction to customers, shareholders, and talent according to Patrick Rooney, associate dean of academic affairs for the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

The U.S. and world economy appear to be on the incline. Unemployment claims in the United States continue to fall, while high dollar purchases such as for cars are expected to climb. It is perhaps then no surprise that charitable donations increase as well. A circle of wealth, where the consumer enriches the entrepreneur who in turn has the ability to share the wealth voluntarily, provides a “win-win” scenario for the country as a whole. As companies such as Facebook remain profitable, personal contributions from their owners are likely to persevere, and indeed breaking more records.

By Ian Erickson

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Los Angeles Times
San Francisco Chronicle