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The Technology Moguls Who Gave Big In 2012

Viewed 3980 times 2013-1-6 18:19 |System category:News| 2012

The founders of Facebook Inc., eBay Inc. and Google Inc. dug deep for good causes in 2012.

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg topped the list of Silicon Valley donors of stock to charity in a study by compensation firm Equilar Inc. commissioned by The Wall Street Journal. The 28-year-old gave $498.8 million in Facebook stock to charity in 2012, all of which came in a gift in December of 18 million shares to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation for projects in education and health.

The other top slots were filled by some of the area's most prominent philanthropists. EBay founder Pierre Omidyar came in second, donating $441.3 million of eBay stock during the year. Mr. Omidyar is also founding partner of the Omidyar Network, a Redwood City-based philanthropic investment firm that has given to a broad range of causes, many of which have a technology bent.

Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page came in third and fourth, giving $222.9 million and $185.6 million, respectively. Oracle Corp. CEO Larry Ellison followed with a gift worth $45.4 million.

Representatives for the tech executives declined to comment or didn't return requests for comment.

Equilar tallied donated stock─as valued at the close of trading on the day it was gifted─disclosed in regulatory filings and excluded awards gifted to or from trusts or shares indirectly owned unless the gift was specified as a gift to a charitable foundation. Most grants didn't indicate the recipient of the donation. The rankings were computed as of Dec. 20.

Philanthropy has been on the upswing in Silicon Valley and nationally, rebounding from a lull during the recession a few years ago. Charitable giving also accelerated toward the end of 2012, amid expectations that politicians would cap deductions for charitable donations to increase tax revenue.

U.S. donors gave $298.4 billion to charity in 2011, up slightly from 2010, according to the Giving USA Foundation, a Chicago group that researches philanthropic trends. Adjusted for inflation, the growth from 2010 to 2011 was fairly flat.

Eight of the top 10 Silicon Valley-related donors─including Messrs. Zuckerberg, Omidyar and Brin─increased their stock giving from 2011 to 2012, according to Equilar.

In the Bay Area, giving has been fueled by a spate of new public stock offerings, including Facebook's highly publicized debut in May 2012. Three board members for Guidewire Software Inc., a Foster City-based maker of insurance software that went public in early 2012, also made the top 12 givers. Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg came in eighth, donating $9.9 million. Representatives for the individuals didn't comment.

Local charities note that it isn't just the billionaires who are increasing their giving; rank-and-file employees whose wealth is rising are being generous, too.

Daniel Lurie, CEO and founder of Tipping Point, a San Francisco-based foundation working to reduce poverty in the Bay Area, says the nonprofit's user base has broadened significantly over its seven-year history. In 2011 it had some 1,300 donors, up from 1,000 a year the before. It expects to beat that when the final numbers for 2012 are tallied.

'You don't have to retire to make a difference,' says Mr. Lurie, who adds that in 2011 the foundation raised $12.1 million, up from $450,000 in its first year.

Giving by Bay Area foundations has grown faster than giving by California and U.S. foundations overall in recent years, according to the Foundation Center, a New York-based philanthropy researcher.

From 2000 to 2009, Bay Area foundations increased their giving 76.6% to $3.1 billion (2009 is the most recent year for which those figures are available). Bay Area foundations' assets rose 33.8% over the same period. Education, the environment and animals were the most popular causes.

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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