Zuckerberg, CEO and founder of Facebook, in his usual unobtrusive manner presented the largest single donation of the year, close to $1 billion.
Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan / Getty
Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan rose to the top of the US philanthropist list in 2013 when they presented 18 million shares in his social media company to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation just before the end of the year.
The shares are currently at just less than $1 billion, making for close to one third of all the $3.4 billion in total charitable donations presented in the USA during the year which has just ended. The Zuckerberg’s donated half that amount in 2012 to the same charity.
Zuckerberg’s gift is in many ways a record breaker, standing out as the largest single donation ever presented by a philanthropist under the age of 30. Mark and Priscilla will not have to travel too far to see the benefits of their massive endowment as the Silicon Valley Community Foundation is there to support the people in the neighborhood where Facebook have situated their global headquarters.
An indicator that the United States economy is indeed moving into recovery mode is the dramatic increase in the number of high value donations being endowed.
According to information provided by the United States Chronicle of Philanthropy, during 2013 14 US citizens, among them outgoing New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, donated more than $100 million to charity during the year, compared to 11 in 2012.
However as a spokesperson for the United States Chronicle of Philanthropy hastened to point out donation levels are still far away from the pre-2008 era, with 2007 seeing the total level of donations reach over the $4 billion mark.
Industry analysts point out that the size and timing of Zuckerberg’s donation was better thought out than would appear from first view. Conjecture is that the donation was made to release increasing tensions between the technology industry who are particularly an active in the San Francisco Bay area and other possibilities affluent businesses and communities who are also based there. In recent months there have been increasing protests about the presence of affluent high tech companies and their employees pushing up rents in the area.
The Mark Zuckerberg’s donation is not only unusual because of its size and its specific purpose, but because many of the other movers and shakers in the high-tech industry are inclined to make large donations usually prefer to do so anonymously and focus on the furthering of education or scientific advances.
Taking second place amongst the super philanthropists for 2013 where Mister and Mrs. Phil Knight, chairman of Nike, who pledged of $500 million to the Oregon Health & Science University Foundation for cancer research. In third place was Michael Bloomberg, who endowed $350 million to Johns Hopkins University, his alma mater, to promote cross-disciplinary work and provide student financial aid.
Over all, colleges and universities were the main beneficiaries of the largest donations during the course of 2013, with twelve out of the fifteen most generous gifts going towards higher education.