Two Silicon Valley executives and their wives are among the top five most generous donors of 2012. According to Philanthropy 50, Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan donated $498.8 million and Google co-founder Sergey Brin and his wife Anne Wojcicki donated $222.9 million.
82-year-old investor Warren Buffet ranked at the top of the list with an astounding $3.1 billion to charity while the Zuckerbergs came in second. The Zuckerbergs and the Brins had previously ranked in the Philanthropy 50, but last year marked the first time either couple were among the top five.
Last December, Mark Zuckerberg announced that he and Priscilla donated 18 million shares of Facebook stock valued at nearly $500 million, to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, a public benefit organization headquartered in Mountain View. Their generous donation, intended to support education and health programs, exceeded the foundation’s entire contributions the previous year, when it took in $470 million. The top beneficiary from the Brins was the Brin Wojciki Foundation, whose sizable donors last year included the Human Rights Foundation, the Tipping Point Community, a local grant making organization that fights poverty and Ashoka, a non-profit supporting social entrepreneurship based in Arlington, Virginia.
Yesterday, the Zuckerberg residence was the scene of a protest against the Facebook CEO for throwing a political fundraiser for Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. The protest, sponsored by the progressive non-profit CREDO mobile, was primarily geared towards Christie’s defunding of his state’s Planned Parenthood program. However two years ago, the Zuckerbergs made their first sizable charitable donation ($100 million) to New Jersey’s Startup Education, which helped open four new district high schools and 11 new charter schools. Christie rebuked the budget cuts to Planned Parenthood, citing tax increases would “kill a job market already on life support.”
Regardless of any semblance towards political support from either the Zuckerbergs or the Brins, their incredibly generous donations towards charitable causes should be applauded. Their prescence in the Silicon Valley are among the reasons why billions of people all over the world use their innovative services every single day.