Paying it Forward, Paying it Back

On December 1, 2015, Mark Zuckerberg wrote a heartfelt letter to his newborn daughter, Max. His letter entailed an on-going initiative, pledging that he and his wife, Priscilla Chan, would donate 99 percent of their current Facebook shares (around $45 billion in total) to charity. This news sparked lots of attention and applause from the public, but the initiative also sparked some backlash.

The public was made aware that the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative was formed as a Limited Liability Company (LLC) rather than a nonprofit, meaning that the organization is not subjected to the same spending restrictions that nonprofits are. On December 3, 2015 Zuckerberg made a post to reassure his critics that he had not founded the organization to give his own family a tax break:

Zuckerberg has made an effort to keep the public in-the-know about where the money is being donated. On Friday, August 19, 2016, Zuckerberg and Chan took the first step in making good on this promise by selling 767,905 shares of Facebook stock previously donated to the CZI. The shares were worth approximately $95 million.

On the Initiatives main website, under newsroom, the page showcases stories of where donations have been distributed. For example, in November 2018, CZI provided a 3 to 1 match for donations to the North Valley Community Foundation — up to a total initiative donation of $750,000. In a recent example (February 7, 2019), the initiative announced a $1.6 million grant to Valor Collegiate Academies based in Nashville, Tennessee.

I believe that Zuckerberg and Chan are ultimately doing something good for the community and the planet. Even though his organization is not a nonprofit organization, at least he is using his substantial wealth to invest in making the world a better place.

“I often say inside the company that my goal was never to just create a company. A lot of people have been misinterpreting that as if I don’t care about revenue or profit or any of those things. That’s not actually it at all. You need to do those things to succeed in any meaningful way. Building a good economic engine is what allows all these other platform companies and advertisers and other partners to exist, and be a part of this ecosystem. Ultimately what not being just a company means to me, is just not being just that—building something that actually makes a really big change in the world.” – Mark Zuckerberg


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