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Controversy surrounding the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative


Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, and his wife Dr. Priscilla Chan are joining the ranks of socially minded billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffett by committing to donate a significant portion of their wealth, currently $45 billion, to charity over their lifetimes. Zuckerberg and Chan have created and funded the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative with 99 percent of their Facebook shares. They have outlined their charitable goals in a letter to their newborn daughter, Max. According to the letter, the focus of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative will be on “personalized learning, curing disease, connecting people and building strong communities.”

Their announcement has been met with some criticism however.  The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is an LLC which is unique because most people who donate their appreciated stock do so through a charitable foundation. Unlike a charitable foundation, the LLC will allow Zuckerberg and Chan to continue to control their Facebook stock and also do political lobbying which has led some to call their plan self-serving. It’s important to note however, Zuckerberg and Chan have promised that all net proceeds from the LLC will be used to advance the mission of the initiative which means even more money to donate. Despite the critics, I commend Zuckerberg and Chan on their commitment to make the world a better place, not only for their daughter but for all our children.  

I call this a win-win.