Silicon Valley Philanthropists Stepped Up Donations of Stock in 2012

Charitable giving by Silicon Valley philanthropists accelerated toward the end of the year amid expectations that Congress and the White House might strike a budget deal that capped or eliminated the deduction for charitable giving in 2013, the Wall Street Journal reports.

According to a study commissioned by the Journal and conducted by compensation firm Equilar, Inc., Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg topped the list of Silicon Valley donors in 2012 with a December gift of eighteen million shares of Facebook stock valued at $498.8 million to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The second spot on the list was claimed by EBay and Omidyar Network founder Pierre Omidyar, who donated eBay stock valued at $441.3 million to various organizations and causes over the course of the year. The third and fourth spots were claimed by Google co-founders Sergey Brin ($222.9 million) and Larry Page ($185.6 million), followed by Oracle Corp. CEO Larry Ellison ($45.4 million). Eight of the top ten Silicon Valley donors — including Zuckerberg, Omidyar, and Brin — donated more in stock in 2012 than they did in 2011.

A flurry of public stock offerings in 2012, including Facebook's highly publicized IPO in May, helped to boost charitable giving in the valley. For example, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, who gave $9.9 million to charity in 2012, was eighth on the list of Silicon Valley givers, just behind Guidewire Software director and valley veteran Craig Ramsey; Guidewire went public early in the year.

Executives at local charities report that giving by rank-and-file employees whose wealth is increasing also is on the upswing. Daniel Lurie, CEO and founder of Tipping Point Community, a San Francisco-based nonprofit working to reduce poverty in the Bay Area, told the Journal that the nonprofit had increased its donor base to thirteen hundred in 2011, up from a thousand in 2010, and expected the growth to continue in 2012. "You don't have to retire to make a difference," said Lurie.

Jessica E. Lessin. "The Technology Moguls Who Gave Big in 2012." Wall Street Journal 01/02/2013.