Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg Tops List Of US Biggest Donors In 2013

By: EW News Desk Team   Date: 10 February 2014

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10 February 2014

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave away nearly $1 billion of his fortune to charitable organisations last year, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy on Monday, topping the list of the biggest U.S. philanthropic donors in 2013.

In total, the top 50 U.S. donors gave to charity $7.7 billion last year, up 4 percent from the previous year, helped by a surge on Wall Street.

Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan had given away 18 million shares of Facebook stock, valued at some $992 million, to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, the Chronicle of Philanthropy noted, while the pair over the past two years have given away shares worth up to $1.5 billion.

Zuckerberg, who turns 30 later this year, is the youngest benefactor ever to top the magazine's annual charitable donations list. Some of the nation's biggest givers do not appear on the 2013 list, not because they stopped being generous, but because their donations in 2013 were counted as pledges in previous years.

For example, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda gave their foundation slightly more than $181.3 million last year, but they were paying off a pledge of about $3.3 billion they made in 2004.

CNN founder Ted Turner and Berkshire Hathaway chairman Warren Buffett also made large gifts toward previous pledges.

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Below Zuckerberg and Chan on the 2013 was the estate of George Mitchell, an oil and gas executive who died in July. He bequeathed $750 million in total to his family’s foundation, which supports Texas-based nonprofit groups that work in clean energy and natural-gas sustainability.

Third on the list was Nike’s co-founder Phil Knight, who donated $500 million to the Oregon Health and Science University Foundation. Knight and his wife however added a stipulation that to keep the gift, the university match the $500 million over the next two years.

The Chronicle's editor said the most significant fact from the list was the amount of money coming from living donors, which totaled about the same amount as the two previous years combined.

"It's a sure sign that the economy is getting better and people are getting a lot less cautious," Chronicle editor Stacy Palmer told the Associated Press.

Leslie Lenkowsky, a professor of philanthropy and public works at Indiana University in Bloomington, also noted that age and experience also played an important role in the amount of donations.

“In general, people who make their own money are most likely to give it away more than people who inherited it or earned it through investment-related activity,” she told CS Monitor. “What’s playing out now is [that] the entrepreneurs of the 1990s are reaching a point in their lives where their businesses are in very good shape, and they’re looking toward other things in their lives and giving is an important part of it.”

Nineteen of the 50 top individuals and families on the list, including Zuckerberg, have signed Gates and Buffett’s Giving Pledge. The pledge asks the world’s wealthiest individuals to give the majority of their wealth – either in their life or after death – to philanthropy.

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