Mark Zuckerberg, wife commit to giving 99 percent of Facebook shares to charity | News | Palo Alto Online |


Mark Zuckerberg, wife commit to giving 99 percent of Facebook shares to charity

Announcement came in form of letter written to couple's newborn daughter, Max

If a prize were to be awarded for the biggest gift on Giving Tuesday, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and wife, Priscilla Chan, would very likely walk away with it.

The couple announced Tuesday, Dec. 1, that they will give 99 percent of their Facebook shares -- currently valued at about $45 billion -- to charity during their lives through the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

The announcement came in the form of a letter written to the couple's newborn daughter, Max, born last week.

The letter is both a warm parental epistle to Max and a bold manifesto outlining the couple's philanthropic priorities.

"We wish you a life filled with the same love, hope and joy you give us. We can't wait to see what you bring to this world," the new parents wrote.

Alongside those hopes and love for their new child, they said, they feel a "great responsibility to leave the world a better place for you and all children."

That sense of responsibility, they explained in the letter, paired with their experiences in their respective fields of technology and health, has led them to set the priorities for the areas they intend to support, namely "personalized learning, internet access, and community education and health."

Zuckerberg and Chan also stated their tenets for giving, which will influence which initiatives and charities their billions of dollars will support. They said:

● We must make long-term investments over 25, 50 or even 100 years.

● We must engage directly with the people we serve.

● We must build technology to make change.

● We must participate in policy and advocacy to shape debates.

● We must back the strongest and most independent leaders in each field.

● We must take risks today to learn lessons for tomorrow.

Each principle, they said, will further their initiative's ultimate purpose: "to advance human potential and promote equality."

The areas of health, education and technology align with the pair's previous charitable work. Among their largest gifts are donations of $100 million to Newark schools, $120 million committed to Bay Area schools, and $75 million to the trauma center at San Francisco General Hospital.

The couple is also engaging in hands-on work locally. Chan announced in October that she will serve as CEO of The Primary School, a free private, pre-K through eighth grade school that will combine education and health-care services for underserved Belle Haven and East Palo Alto families. The school is set to launch its first pre-K class in August 2016.

The announcement about their commitment to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative was well-received. Within two hours, the post had received 338,655 Facebook likes. Well-known individuals around the world posted their congratulations, including philanthropist and innovator Melinda Gates, Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, Colombian singer Shakira, actor and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor in chief of The Huffington Post.

Some excerpts:

Melinda Gates

"We can be confident of this: Max and every child born today will grow up in a world that is better than the one we know now. As you say, "seeds planted now will grow." Your work will bear fruit for many decades to come."

Sheryl Sandberg

"This is a beautiful letter and an incredible commitment to future generations. Congratulations Mark and Priscilla – this is the start of another amazing chapter in your lives."

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13 people like this
Posted by anne
a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 2, 2015 at 8:44 am

Congratulations first on the birth of your baby! (Now get some sleep :-) )

Thank you for the commitment to save the world, because that is what we are truly facing. When you have a child, when you become a parent, they are all your children.

Good health and a happy life to you, Max.

46 people like this
Posted by Giving Tues.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 2, 2015 at 8:54 am

Listened to NPR program about Giving Tuesday, and the differences between middle class givers and wealthy givers.

Middle class givers give a small sum to each of several different charities, because they wish to help in several different places. They also give regularly throughout the year.

Wealthy givers, on the other hand, give a huge sum to one organization, usually only once a year, usually at or near the end of the year. This is for tax reasons, of course, but mostly for recognition. A huge sum does not go unnoticed nor unheralded, and always makes the news. The Wealthy givers feel satisfied that they have helped in a big, noticeable way, and can be known to the public as philanthropists.

Middle class givers are also philanthropists, but lack the funds to give in a flamboyant way.

The NPR program mentioned the Zuckerbergs and the Gateses.

8 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 2, 2015 at 9:16 am

Absolutely delighted to hear about the safe arrival of baby Z, particularly since they have had so many problems in the past.

The news about the giving away of 99% of their FB shares in their lifetime is a bit confusing. Firstly what does this mean? Does it mean that they will continually be giving money away? If this is the case then it sounds wonderful, if it can be believed, which of course could be the case. But if it means that they will hold on to the majority until they are fairly aged, it sounds to me that rather than leave the money to their kid(s), they will give it away, sounds a little strange.

I like the idea of the letter to their daughter even though she is going to have to be fairly grown up to understand it. They are in a position more than most parents to make some big differences in the world she grows up in. They have high ideals as do most first time parents, but in their case, they can do something about it.

However, and this is what I am not sure about. Is one of the things they are aiming to do for little Max is to make her work for her own future rather than making her rich through inheritance. She is going to be growing up with the Z name and all the baggage that her parents carry. I have a lot of respect for Donald Trump's grown children, they seem to be doing well. But a lot of kids of wealthy people turn into brats. Hopefully Max will grow up understanding the value of money and the responsibility of wealth. Whether she inherits her parents' fortunes or not and what attitude she has, is something only she can work out for herself but it sounds to me like her parents are starting off on the right track.

Good luck to the family, after all, they are our neighbors and Max will be a Palo Altan, just like the rest of the kids being raised in town, regardless of the wealth.

31 people like this
Posted by Laurel Marshall
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 2, 2015 at 10:38 am

I completely agree with the above poster. I also want to question how many tax write-offs a person might be able to get IF one donated quite a large sum of money to a charity or'Charities'. Perhaps this might sound callous but people do think more along these lines than they used to, imo.

10 people like this
Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 2, 2015 at 11:39 am

My understanding is that the 99 percent of the shares will be "given" to the foundation and work as its endowment. The foundation, then, will give grants in some areas and oversee its own programs in others. So, it formalizes what Zuckerberg and Chan have been trying to do the past few years.

As for Baby Max's financial future--1 percent of $45 billion is still $450 million. That's way richer than most of us will ever be and still puts you among the very wealthy.

Zuckerberg became so rich at so young an age that I sometimes think he finds it a bit isolating--he seems to make these attempts to live a normal life. He doesn't live on an estate, but on a normal street--admittedly, he had to buy the houses around him for privacy, but it's not a flaunt-your-wealth attitude. He married his college girlfriend who's got her own career instead of going for arm-candy.

I think, in an odd way, he doesn't have quite as big an ego as someone like Larry Ellison. Admittedly, it's all relative.

30 people like this
Posted by anne
a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 2, 2015 at 12:24 pm

Thanks for the info about middle class givers. I just want to point out that charity begins at home, and that people shouldn't restrict their giving to charitied.

One of my good friends taught me the lesson when she was declining from a multiple system atrophy disorder that was then misdiagnosed as Parkinson's. She was already having trouble working but when a fellow patient she saw frequently in the waiting room was having trouble paying for physical therapy, she stepped up to the desk with her checkbook and just paid for the care he needed. We all get so used to just giving to charities for the tax deduction, or maybe we think there is oversight (sadly, I learned there is not really much oversight with nonorofits so oerhaps this is one of the regulatory things the C-Z family might change), but forget that not every need or even close to is served by a 501 c3. When my friend was getting really sick, we were able to arrange some offlabel care (including that I found a clinic willing to donate the care) that made a surprising difference, but getting a comprehensive round of testing and investigation to help better understand and go from there was impossible, and she declined again and died too young. Maybe further work wouldn't have cured her but it would have added knowledge and she was willing to do that to help others. (MSAs are very rare, so clinical trials were not an option at the time.) None of us could afford it, and there were simply no charities who did that sort of thing. My friend had been so ready to help others in need, but when she needed help, there was no place to go, because nonprofits are less in the business of directly addressing specific individual needs than most people think.

So I guess I would add to the Chan Zuckerberg's - don't just play it safe. If just giving money were the answer, we wouldn't have so many big problems. The expressed conditions are laudable, I hope it works. Good luck changing the world for all of our children.

31 people like this
Posted by enough!
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 2, 2015 at 2:44 pm

First, congratulations to the Z'bergs on the birth of their beautiful daughter. The birth of a baby is one of the best times in life.

As to the charitable donations, I dunno. I see a lot about children, and making the future better for them, but what about making the present better for those of us who are being displaced from our homes by companies like Facebook importing so many workers (foreign and domestic) and the lack of diversity and patent practice of ageism.

Many of the people who are being shut out from the Valley's artificially inflated economy are the children of someone, or have children of their own. We would like to stay in our homes and be near our parents/children too.

Remember, the money made, though yes, it's a free service, has been mined off our data that we have supplied. That should count for something.

Like this comment
Posted by Warmed
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 2, 2015 at 11:48 pm

Congratulations, to the parents and welcome baby Max!

It's a wonderful gift and example of generosity they have shown their daughter as young parents.

It's a beautiful wish for their daughter and everyone's future. I feel hopeful that their hands-on work in EPA will inform them of the issues of the country's struggling masses. "Savage Inequalities". I feel hopeful that their philanthropy will heal traumas in the world that create cycles of violence. They have planted seeds for more justice and equality and that brings divided groups face to face, sharing empathy. Maybe they'll launch Face-to-Face Book!

Mazeltov and blessings, Chan Zuckerberg Family.

13 people like this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 3, 2015 at 1:40 am

There is an interesting documentary out called "Terms And Conditions May Apply"
that has a cameo appearance by Mr. Zuckerberg which is quite interesting and
human. Through interviews with technology leaders and futurists the erosion of
privacy is examined.

You can watch this documentary on NetFlix. I think at least a bit of the concern
about privacy is understood on a personal level by Mr. Z himself when he is
interviewed and some of this earlier comments from the past are taken out of
context. It is worth watching and thinking about.

Congrats Zuckerberg and Chan on the birth of your daughter, I hope she has all
the privacy she needs and wants, and so does everyone else!

41 people like this
Posted by Wait, Wait
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 3, 2015 at 9:44 am

Apparently there is a catch to this endowment of Zuckerberg's ( wouldn't you know it?).

Yesterday morning, KQED radio had a blurb about the Zuckerbergs' "gift". They interviewed a guest who specialized in which charities are good, which are bad, bogus, etc. He recommended emailing or calling these organizations and asking for an annual report.

Anyhow, the important part of his interview, conducted by a Mr Krasny, is that there are "clean" and "dirty" endowments. This depends on what investments are used to make more money for the endowment. I was shocked and saddened ( as was the interviewer), to learn that both the Gates Foundation and the Zuckerberg-Chan Foundation are considered by financial analysts to the DIRTIEST-- because both endowments are very heavily invested in fossil fuels as well as technologies that pollute.

Not all charities are good, or purely for charity. I guess this is a case of " beware of Greeks bearing gifts".

The host/interviewer nervously interjected that KQED radio and NPR BOTH receive grants from the Gates Foundation.

Like this comment
Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 3, 2015 at 9:49 pm

Uh, how can the Zuckerberg-Chan Foundation be invested in anything but Facebook stock? Or is there another Zuckerberg-Chan Foundation?

38 people like this
Posted by Laurel Marshall
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 4, 2015 at 3:47 pm

I just read a brand new news item online (' concerning the Zuckerberg fortune: "Facebook multi-billionaire Mark Zuckerberg is being celebrated for supposedly giving away 99% of his money, something over $45 billion."

"That's an amount that could end hunger or unclean drinking water or homelessness on earth."

("Click here to urge Zuckerberg to really give it away.")[This link was in the article but won't work on this site.]

"'Don't believe the hype. Mark Zuckerberg did not donate $45 billion to charity,'" writes the New York Times. "You may have heard that, but that was wrong."

"'It turns out Zuckerberg gave himself his money. He didn't even give it to a non-profit foundation. He gave it to a limited liability company (L.L.C.) belonging to himself.'"

"His new company can invest in for-profit companies, lobby legislators, and fund political candidates. Zuckerberg has made clear it will do the first two of those things, and it's doubtful it won't do the third."

(Tell Zuckerberg what you think of this scam here.)[Again, this is not connected to any website.]

"'He amassed one of the greatest fortunes in the world," notes the New York Times, "and is likely never to pay any taxes on it.'"

"Zuckerberg claims he will pay capital gains taxes when the Facebook shares that constitute his wealth are sold. But if they are donated, he will not."

"It's far from clear, however, how soon Zuckerberg will donate any significant fraction of his hoarded riches."

"'A charitable foundation is subject to rules and oversight," says the New York Times. "It has to allocate a certain percentage of its assets every year. The new Zuckerberg L.L.C. won’t be subject to those rules and won’t have any transparency requirements.'"

[Portion removed.]

33 people like this
Posted by Remember, it's Zuck
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 4, 2015 at 5:55 pm

Consider, please, what Zuckerberg did to his co-founders in the earlier days of Facebook.

Consider also what he promised his employees just before FB went public.

Consider too, what he tells his managers to threaten the underlings with in regards to their easy replaceability.

It should then come as no shock that Zuckerberg would donate to himself!

14 people like this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 4, 2015 at 7:11 pm

for those familiar with tax avoidance strategies, it should come as no surprise that Zuckerberg’s approach to philanthropy is set up to avoid any unnecessary tax liability and these aggressive tax-avoidance maneuvers impose a real cost: every dollar of income tax that Facebook doesn’t pay is, ultimately, a dollar that must be made up by the rest of us, either through higher taxes on middle-income families or draconian cuts in infrastructure spending.

Get out your wallets and pay up! ;-)

18 people like this
Posted by Remember, it's Zuck
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 4, 2015 at 7:22 pm

The Zuckerbergs are among the very wealthiest people on this planet.

They can easily afford to pay all of their taxes on their exorbitant income.

It is their duty and responsibility, and should not be looking for shelters.

Their rightfully due taxes would be a big help to this country.

But, then, as an ADHD person, judgment and responsibility are not always what they should be.

Posted by PAmoderate
a resident of Old Palo Alto

on Dec 5, 2015 at 8:44 am

PAmoderate is a registered user.

Due to violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are only visible to registered users who are logged in. Use the links at the top of the page to Register or Login.

1 person likes this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 8, 2015 at 2:02 am

Mark Zuckerberg posted on Facebook that he and his wife will receive
not tax benefits from their new philanthropic endeavor ...

> SAN FRANCISCO/BENGALURU (Reuters) - Facebook Inc Chief Executive
> Mark Zuckerberg said on Thursday he and his wife would receive no tax
> benefit from setting up their new philanthropic endeavor as a limited liability
> company and hinted at the types of efforts it would support.

> In a post on his Facebook page, he wrote that “just like everyone else,
> we will pay capital gains taxes when our shares are sold by the LLC.”

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