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Zuckerberg and Chan Offer $100 Million to Help Local Election Offices

So far two people have dedicated as much money as Congress has to help fund election offices as November 3rd races towards us. Mind you, those two people are Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan. But still, it sends a clear message that Congress should be doing better.

On Monday, October 26, Zuckerberg and Chan announced a $100 million donation to help local election offices around the country. Along with money they have previously donated in September for the same purpose, that brings their contribution up to $400 million, which actually is just as much as Congress has allocated for the purpose.

Election experts have estimated that ensuring everyone has a right to safely vote this year should have cost on the order of $4 billion, but they’ll have to make do with less than a quarter of that, all the same.

The money will help pay for protective equipment at polling sites, equipment to process mail ballots, last-minute drive-through voting stations, and more. All indications show that, COVID-19 aside, this year will see a voter turnout unequaled in U.S. history.

“We’ve seen massive interest in the COVID-19 Response Grant program over the last month from over 2,100 election officials who are seeking funding to ensure safe, health election options for voters in every corner of the country,” said Tiana Epps-Johnson, executive director of the Center for Technology and Civic Life, which is the nonprofit directing most of the donations.

Because the nonprofit, which acts in a nonpartisan manner and is respected by election administrators on both sides of the aisle, was founded by Democrats, legal groups in 10 Republican and swing states have made legal obstacles against voting centers taking funds from these donations. 

Most election offices which have applied for grants are in rural districts with fewer than 25,000 registered voters, voters who may have to travel hours or even overnight to reach a polling station.

Source: ArkLaTex

Editorial credit: Frederic Legrand – COMEO /

Donation News The Power of Giving

Facebook Donates £1M to Save Historic Site of Turing’s First Computer

During WWII, the English country house known as Bletchley Park was a secret site housing the Government Code and Cypher School, keeping their fingers the pulse of Axis Powers intelligence. Most notably, it is the place where Alan Turing and his team of codebreakers (Gordon Welchman, Hugh Alexander, Bill Tutte, and Stuart Milner-Barry) broke the Enigma and Lorenz ciphers and built Colossus, the world’s first programmable digital electronic computer.

The original Colossus was destroyed in the 1960s to keep it a secret during the Cold War, but a working replica is still there in the same house, the house now known as the National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park.

In August, the Bletchley Park Trust, the charity which maintains the site and museum, reported that they were facing a revenue shortage of over £2 million ($2.6m) because of COVID-19 closures and falling visitor numbers once they were allowed to reopen. This amounts to almost 95 percent of their annual income. In light of the near total loss of 2020’s income, the charity was looking at laying off approximately a third of its few paid employees.

Facebook announced that they would be donating £1 million to the Bletchley Park Trust, recognizing the site’s “ongoing legacy as a birthplace of modern computing.”

“The historic achievements of Alan Turing and the Bletchley team have benefited all of us greatly, including Facebook, and we’re thrilled to help preserve this spiratual home of modern computng,” said Steve Hatch in a press statement. Hatch is Facebook’s vice president of Northern Europe, the largest hub of Facebook outside the U.S.

Iain Standen, the CEO of Bletchley Park Trust, made a statement in return, describing the charity as “very grateful to Facebook.” 

“With this significant support,” he said, “the Bletchley Park Trust will be better positioned to operate in the ‘new world’ and keep its doors open for future generations.” There is no comment yet about how many of the threatened jobs will be preserved by the donation.

Source: The Verge

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Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Donates $13.6M to Antibody Testing

In 2015 on the birthday of their daughter, pediatrician Priscilla Chan and her husband, Mark Zuckerberg, set up the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub to fight disease worldwide. In the past 5 years, most of their activities have been towards securing funding beyond the $1 billion in yearly funds coming from Facebook shares, but now they are taking a step forward.

On Wednesday, April 29th, Zuckerberg announced that the Initiative would be donating $13.6 million towards COVID-19 antibody testing in San Franscisco, and coordinating with Stanford University and the University of California to conduct antibody studies in the Bay Area.

There will be two studies, one of which has already begun. The first will test 4,000 Bay Area volunteers monthly for both active COVID-19 and for the antibodies which will indicate they’ve encountered the disease before. That one will run from April into December, and be used to track where new cases emerge, helping to guide a safe return to normal.

The second study will be localized to frontline health care workers. 3,500 doctors, nurses, and EMTs will be tested weekly to determine how heavily and quickly the medical community can be hit. It will also work on determining if prior infection means future immunity, which is so far an unknown factor. Many important things hinge on whether or not you can re-catch the disease, and no one really knows yet.

Both studies are intended to be used as guideposts in reopening business and normal life in and around San Franscisco, but their data will have world-wide applications. The Chan Zuckerberg donation is the largest single share of funding coming into this vital project.

In a Facebook post, Zuckerberg also mentioned combining the data from both studies with the self-report symptom surveys that Facebook has been running for a Carnegie Mellon research group, which could provide even more information.

Source: The Week

Editorial credit: Frederic Legrand – COMEO /


Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Brings Former Obama Adviser On Board

Mark Zuckerberg is incredibly wealthy, which is why he and his wife Priscilla Chan have started a foundation to give a lot of that wealth away to help others. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is the organization that the Facebook CEO is using to give away 99% of his wealth, which is going to require a lot of organization.

Luckily, they’ve just brought David Plouffe on board, who ran President Obama’s 2008 election campaign. Plouffe joins Ken Mehlman, who worked as a campaign manager for George W. Bush.

At the Initiative, Plouffe will be in charge of policy and advocacy, while Mehlman will be in charge of the policy advisory board. They’ve worked together in the past on things like marriage equality (despite coming from different sides of the political isle) so it stands to reason that the Initiative will be able to put its money to good use.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative certainly has a lot of resources, but at a certain scale that can be daunting, especially since it’s a foundation intent on helping other nonprofits pursue their missions. It’s possible, with such a group, to spread those resources too thin and try to throw money at every problem. But solid leadership can help prevent that.

It will be interesting to see how these two individuals, among others, steer the resources they’ve been granted. Chan and Zuckerberg have expressed interest in improving education and curing diseases, which is itself a pretty broad mandate for the Initiative, which is precisely why it needs strong leadership.

And on top of that, it’s been a rough time for foundations named after wealthy people, with both the Trump Foundation and the Eric Trump Foundation coming under fire for a myriad of reasons. It will be up to the Initiative’s leadership to ensure that they don’t embarrass themselves, and that the huge amount of wealth they’ve been trusted with actually goes to it’s intended recipients.

Image courtesy of Corey Harris at Flickr Creative Commons. 


New Facebook Ad Program Doesn’t Serve Nonprofits

Image credit: rvlsoft /

Advertising can be an important part of a nonprofit’s mission. Getting the word out there and attracting new donors or volunteers is essential to keeping a nonprofit healthy and stable. And, with the ever increasing presence of social media, advertising on sites like Facebook is becoming more and more important.

Recently, Facebook launched a new program called Canvas, which allows advertisers to provide a new system for delivering ads that promises greater audience engagement and returns. It makes the process of creating ads easy, and doesn’t cost anything; it’s rolled into the existing advertising structure.

The problem is that the existing advertising structure doesn’t benefit nonprofits. It has become increasingly difficult to advertise on Facebook, in any form, without paying for it. As the company continues to find ways to monetize the site, groups that can’t afford to pay for such advertising continue to lose presence on that service. While a number of companies can build marketing budgets that allow them to use Facebook, that’s a privilege many nonprofits don’t have, because that’s money they aren’t using toward their mission. Though there are certainly a number of large nonprofits which can make use of Facebook in this way, there are far more small organizations that’s can’t afford it.

Facebook has unveiled a number of new tools lately that, hypothetically, could be useful to nonprofits, but they have so far been underwhelming. Canvas is simply the newest tool which, if it weren’t for increased barriers that nonprofits face in accessing those tools, could prove useful. If Facebook really wants to promote nonprofits or make things easier on them, then they need to look into finding ways to keep their monetization schemes from preventing nonprofits from actively using their tools. Facebook is going to have to think long and hard about the kind of relationship they want with nonprofit organizations.


Zuckerbergs named top 2013 US philanthropists

Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan
Mark Zuckerberg married his college girlfriend, Priscilla Chan, in 2012.
IMG: via Facebook

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan have been named joint top US philanthropists for 2013.

The recognition for the Zuckerberg couple came after their donation of Facebook shares to a Silicon Valley foundation, a donation worth more than $970 million. The donation of 18 million Facebook shares was the largest in the US for 2013.

The donation was made to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, which manages and distributes charitable funds. The funds have been distributed across several sectors, mainly in education and health. Over the past two years, Mr. Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla have donated around 36 million Facebook shares to the foundation.

The donation surpassed philanthropist who have previously held the title, including Bill and Melinda Gates, who gave their foundation slightly more than $181.3 million last year. The Gates made a pledge in 2004 of about $3.3 billion that they have continued to honor.

The Chronicle’s ranking of the 50 donors who give the most to charitable causes shows that the wealthy contributed $7.7 billion last year. That’s 4 percent more than in 2012. Now that the economy is moving, the most generous donors are back and running with multimillion-dollar contributions across America.