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Mark Zuckerberg's Donation Announcement

Mark Wang

Courtesy of Flickr.

Courtesy of Flickr.

On December 1, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, announced in a letter to their newborn child that they will give 99 percent of their Facebook shares, around $45 billion, during their lives to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. They stated that the money that they will give away will be used for “advancing human potential” and “promoting equality.” 

For Zuckerberg and Chan, advancing human potential can be anything such as improving education, curing diseases so that humans can live longer, healthier lives, strengthening the access to great ideas, harnessing clean energy while strengthening environmental protection, and promoting entrepreneurship in order to solve the listed areas above. On the other hand, they stated that promoting equality is about allowing these advancements in human potential to trickle to every parts of world, not just the developed part of the world. 

To achieve their mission, Zuckerberg and Chan stated that their investments in these areas of improvement must be a long term endeavor because these tough challenges “require very long time horizons.” For example, they will invest innovative technology that “make the internet more affordable and bring access to unconnected areas” and participate in shaping educational policies in partnership with leaders all around the world. Furthermore, they emphasized that their investments in educational technology will improve access to obtaining skills, eventually enabling millions to get out poverty. 

However, despite the couple's optimism for a better future, some critics have scrutinized the couple’s decision to donate all of the promised amount to Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which is incorporated as a limited liability company, or LLC for short. Critics pointed out that by giving their fortune to an LCC, they could reduce their taxes or have substantial amount of oversight over their investments. 

Zuckerberg has so far responded that “[they] receive no tax benefit from transferring [their] shares to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative” while he claimed by doing so, they would “gain flexibility to execute [their] mission more effectively.” Moreover, Zuckerberg said that any positive income they earn from their investment will be reinvested into their mission.