The New Breed of Entrepreneurial Philanthropy

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg

Entrepreneurs like Bill Gates waited until his business enterprises were well-established before committing to philanthropic initiatives. But these days, businessmen are giving to charities while they are building their companies, and four of the top ten most generous entrepreneurs employ “Genius Characteristics” to pay it forward. Most of them work in Bay Area tech.

Last year, both WhatsApp entrepreneur Jan Kuom and GoPro CEO Nicholas Woodman individually donated at least $500 million worth of stock to Silicon Valley Community Foundation. There is a new class of philanthropists, who aren’t waiting to be firmly established and retired from their businesses, they are factoring charity into the infrastructure of their companies. These new philanthropists are smart, actively interested in their charities, and are all nearly much younger than their predecessors.

Said Emmett Carson, Executive Director of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, “They want to understand the how, the why. That is a new and higher level of involvement than a lot of nonprofits are used to from donors who traditionally write a check and say, ‘See me in a year and tell me how you did.’ ”

Others on this current trend of giving include entrepreneurs from Google (co-founder Sergey Brin), Salesforce (Marc Benioff) and Facebook (Mark Zuckerberg), in the amount of hundreds of millions of dollars at a time, though this new attitude towards extensive contributions does have its critics. Many of the tech giants are donating money overseas, not back to the Bay Area which has developing housing crises. Some think these large sums of money should be kept in the “backyards” of those donating.

But there is good news. As these savvy patrons become more involved with where their contributions go, they are creating a shift of how future generations think about giving back and using their examples as persuasion.

Emmett Carson said, “These are people who are going to take their knowledge of technology and social media, and blend that with core problems, and come up with new ways of thinking about problems and new ways of advancing solutions that we can scarcely think of.”


Posted in Bob Duggan, Philanthropy and tagged , , .