Facebook’s Zuckerberg, Others, Join Gates and Buffett

December 9, 2010 at 9:03 PM

USA Today reports that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, among others, has joined Giving Pledge, “an effort led by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and investor Warren Buffett to commit the country’s wealthiest people to step up their charitable donations.”

‘People wait until late in their career to give back. But why wait when there is so much to be done?’ Zuckerberg said in a statement. ‘With a generation of younger folks who have thrived on the success of their companies, there is a big opportunity for many of us to give back earlier in our lifetime and see the impact of our philanthropic efforts.’

Needless to say, the move has drawn criticism, including some particularly obnoxious comments from the Globe and Mail’s Carl Mortished:

I suspect the main motive for the “Giving Pledge” is vanity, a lingering and often mistaken sense of guilt among the very wealthy and a bit of tax avoidance from charitable contributions. These men and women may wish to believe that funding vast campaigns to lift people from poverty in Africa, to fight malaria is a great idea but that is because they have not given these projects even 1 per cent of the thought that goes into the business enterprises that made them rich.

Huh? So if they had given these projects one percent or more of the thought they gave their companies, they would have decided that funding vast campaigns to lift people from poverty in Africa and to fight malaria were not great ideas?

I don’t underestimate the role vanity plays in spurring billionaires on to making large charitable donations, and I don’t think merely throwing money at a problem will solve it. But while Gates and Zuckerberg and others were pouring their energy into their private companies, others were themselves devoting their lives to figuring out solutions to these issues.  If the first group donates billions to the second group, seems like that’s a good thing.

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Entry filed under: Big Donors.

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