Mark Zuckerberg announced last week that he is donating 99 percent of his Facebook shares to charity. The shares will be given over his lifetime and currently amount to about $45 billion. The Facebook CEO, currently worth about $35.7 billion, made the announcement with his wife, Priscilla, in an open letter to their newborn daughter, Max. Zuckerberg said he will share more about his plans for the donation over the next few months, and said the focus of the donations will be similar to those he donated to in the past, such as personalized learning, curing disease, connecting people and building strong communities. The donations will be made through the newly established Chan Zuckerberg Initiative LLC.
Yes, Zuckerberg will still be beyond wealthy and will retain control of his voting shares of Facebook. Yes, he will still continue to amass billions of dollars and increase his wealth astronomically throughout the course of his lifetime. Even though the donation will be absolutely painless for Zuckerberg and will not impact his family’s lifestyle in the slightest, there is something hopeful about their gesture of generosity. Zuckerberg has chosen the occasion of the birth of his daughter to make his future plans for giving away most of his money known to the world and that can be taken as a sign of hope. Hope can be expressed in many ways, not just by giving money. It’s human nature to continue to find new reasons for optimism. We non-billionaires can look to the future and do something within our means that says we have hope. At this time of year, when giving is in the air, hope springs eternal.