Billionaire philanthropist Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com, has some sharp things to say about the $US1 billion donation to charity Mark Zuckerberg made last year.
Zuckerberg, Facebook’s co-founder and CEO, gave $US1 billion worth of stock to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation in December. SVCF lets the donor decide where to spend the money and feeds nonprofits in areas like education, health care and the environment.
Benioff implied in an interview with San Francisco Magazine’s Jon Steinberg that the donation was basically a tax write-off:
Marc Benioff: Silicon Valley Community Foundation is a bunch of DAFs: donor-advised funds. You give your money to SVCF and you get your tax write-off for the year, but [the foundation] has no obligation to administer that money.
Jon Steinberg: So you see Zuckerberg’s gift as more of a write-off than a donation?
Marc Benioff: Where’s it gone? What good is it doing now? I’m sure his intentions are positive, but we need to see that money get distributed. What are his targets? What are his philanthropic interests? We know that he has a political interest with his 501(c)(4) [Fwd.us, a lobbying group pushing for tech-friendly federal policies], but what are his philanthropic interests?
However, the SVCF says it is definitely giving money away. It says that in 2013 it had $US4.7 billion of assets under management, recieved $US1.4 billion in donations and gave away $US367 million in grants.
This isn’t the first time Zuckerberg has been generous, without controlling how the donation was spent. In 2011, Zuckerberg gave $100 million to match donations given to the Newark, N.J., school system, leaving it up to the school system on how to spend the money.
Although it’s fairly unusual for a billionaire philanthropist to criticise how another billionaire donates money, Benioff isn’t shy about speaking his mind, even on this subject.
He often speaks out against what he calls the “pay at the end” model advocated by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet and their Giving Pledge. Instead of becoming rich and then giving it all away right before you die, Benioff wants the rich to give their money away as they earn it. It’s the “pay as you go” model, he calls it.
Meanwhile, he’s currently pressuring more tech CEOs to open their corporate wallets for his latest project, called SF Gives. He wants Valley tech companies to share their wealth with the less fortunate in their local communities. Many CEOs are signing on, but about one-third are telling him, “No, thanks,” he says.
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