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Mark Zuckerberg, Other Major Silicon Valley Donors' Latest Startup Is Next-Gen Giving

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SILICON VALLEY PHILANTHROPY
AP

Silicon Valley’s superstars have forever changed the way we interact with one another and consume information. They now may also just give philanthropy a complete overhaul, too.

The Internet’s tech giants are young and successful and because they’ve already taken major risks in their careers, they're willing to do the same with their charitable giving, experts told Fast Company earlier this month. But they’re not content with just sending off a huge chunk of change to a nonprofit and hoping for the best. They’ve built their companies from the ground up and expect to do the same with the causes to which they’ve committed.

"I would say Silicon Valley and the financial industry folks we work with want to know the impact that they’re having. That’s a common theme," Daniel Lurie, CEO and founder of Tipping Point Community -- a Bay Area organization that supports poverty-fighting groups – told Fast Company. "They don’t want to just write a check and say 'We’ll see you next year.' They want to know where it’s going and what the impact is. They want results."

But the Mark Zuckerbergs of the industry aren’t just leading the way in the amount that they’re giving at such a young age (though that’s pretty significant). They’re also trailblazing in their plans to innovate the nonprofit space.

According to a study by Equilar published in the Wall Street Journal, tech moguls gave $1.4 billion to charity in 2012. And, eight of Silicon Valley’s top 10 donors increased their stock giving from the previous year.

After giving $498.8 million in Facebook stock to charity, the 28-year-old founder of the social networking company soared to the No. 1 spot among tech’s givers. Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay, didn’t trail that far behind with his contribution of $42.3 million in his company’s stock, the Journal reports.

But, perhaps, these technology pros are making the greatest waves by applying their expertise to their philanthropic efforts.

Scott Harrison, founder of Charity:Water –- a nonprofit that’s provided nearly 7,000 clean water projects in some of the most destitute places on earth –- wanted to find a way to show his donors how their contributions are making a difference so many worlds away, according to the Associated Press. He came up with the revolutionary –- and costly –- idea of creating sensors to monitor the flow at each well that’s installed.

While most sound donors would shirk the risky idea, Google decided to go for it.

This technology titan announced in December that it would give $23 million in grants to five different nonprofits to spur innovation among charities and increase education for girls and minority students in science and technology, the AP reports.

Charity:Water was rewarded $5 million to develop water-monitoring technology at 4,000 wells across Africa.

"There is sort of a new breed of philanthropists coming into the field," Bradford Smith, president of the Foundation Center, told the AP. "There I think you're seeing a really interesting sort of confluence of almost kind of a venture, risk-taking approach and technology as an instrument for social change."

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