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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 /


Why Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg Weren’t As Charitable in 2018

A new report published in the Chronicle of Philanthropy shows that America’s billionaires weren’t feeling quite as generous in 2018 as they were in 2017. Statistics reveal that last year, the country’s 50 most charitable billionaire’s only donated half of what they did in 2017. Nonprofit expert Lynn Raynault explains why.

“I think it’s less about giving less in 2018 (because 2018 was still well above other years), and more about the fact that 2017 was an anomaly year,” Raynault speculated.

But there’s another key factor to keep in mind: All it takes is one or two donors to tip the scale in either direction. Consider the fact that Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, for example, were responsible for half of the money donated by the top 50 billionaires in 2017.

“The impact that these mega-donors can have year over year is just tremendous,” Raynault explained.

And yet, Bill and his wife Melinda only gave $150 million to charity in 2018 compared to $4.8 billion in 2017. The reason, Raynault theorizes, is because billionaires often focus on a specific cause, and related opportunities can vary from year to year.

“Nearly two-thirds of billionaires are self-made, thus they tend to base their philanthropy on issues relevant to their own principles of success,” Raynault articulated. “For example, in 2018, there were a number of tech billionaires supporting efforts around artificial intelligence and its use in accelerating efforts such as ending hunger, aiding global health care issues, or education.”

As for Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, their noticeable decline in charitable giving can be explained by the political scandals that rocked Facebook last year. According to Fox Business, Zuckerberg’s net worth took a big hit last year. As a result, the couple only donated $200 million in 2018 compared to $2 billion in 2017.

“That’s still a relatively hefty sum and is actually in line with what they’ve given in prior years,” Raynault maintained.

*Photo credit: Oleg Golovnev / Shutterstock


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. 


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.

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Mark Zuckerberg Made the Largest Donation of 2013

Mark Zuckerberg
Kobby Dagan /

Whatever your opinion might be of Mark Zuckerberg after the release of the Hollywoodized story of Facebook’s birth, there can be no question that he’s put a lot of his wealth into good causes. The founder of the world’s largest social media website and his wife donated 18 million shares of Facebook to charity both 2012 and 2013. In 2012, the shares were worth about $500 million; today they are worth about $992 million.

These donations are perhaps unsurprising, considering that Zuckerberg is a member of the prestigious “Giving Pledge” started by billionaires Warren Buffett and Melinda and Bill Gates in 2010. The pledge asks the world’s billionaires to promise to give away half their wealth or more to charity during their lifetimes or upon their deaths. The pledge has garnered many reputable names, including Richard Branson, Sara Blakely, and Michael Bloomberg. Gates himself plans on giving away a total of about $60 billion.

Zuckerberg isn’t the only billionaire pledging more money to charity these days, either; fourteen other Americans donated gifts of at least $100 million or more in 2013. The year before, eleven total donations of that scale were made.

Last year, Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, were second on the list of largest single charitable gifts. This year, they became the first billionaires under the age of 30 to land the top spot. Here’s the full list of the top ten donations made in 2013, provided by the Chronicle of Philanthropy:

  1. Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan – $992.2 million – Silicon Valley Community Foundation
  2. Phil and Penelope Knight – $500 million (pledge) – Oregon Health & Science University Foundation
  3. Michael Bloomberg – $350 million (pledge) – The Johns Hopkins University
  4. Charles Johnson – $250 million (pledge) – Yale University
  5. Stephen Ross – $200 million (pledge) – University of Michigan
  6. Muriel Block – $160 million (bequest) – Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University
  7. John Arrillaga – $151 million – Stanford University
  8. Irwin and Joan Jacobs – $133 million – The Jacobs Technicon-Cornell Innovation Institute at Cornell NYC Tech
  9. Charles Munger – $100 million (pledge) – University of Michigan
  10. David Koch – $100 million (pledge) – New York Presbyterian Hospital