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.
"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."
"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."