Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg Aren't Actually The Most Generous Tech Leaders: Study

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and chief executive officer of Facebook Inc., listens to an audience member's question during an int
Mark Zuckerberg, founder and chief executive officer of Facebook Inc., listens to an audience member's question during an interview at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013. Zuckerberg said helping 11 million undocumented U.S. residents is the most important aspect of immigration issues he's exploring with congressional leaders during a Washington visit. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Mark Zuckerberg was recently heralded for giving the biggest single charitable gift of 2013, but the Facebook founder isn’t actually the most generous tech leader out there.

In fact, the tech moguls you recognize most didn’t top the list at all.

Every year, The Chronicle of Philanthropy ranks the biggest American givers based on the monetary amount they donate. But Inside Philanthropy decided to take an alternative approach to ranking the most generous technology philanthropists of all time. They analyzed the percentage of wealth each person donated, while also considering each person’s age and how long they’ve had their fortunes.

Turns out, the top givers in the tech sector are Leonard Bosack and Sandy Lerner, the co-founders of Cisco. The two left their company in 1990 with $170 million. Soon after, they donated more than 70 percent of the money to charity, mostly to animal welfare organizations.

Gordon Moore, 85, co-founder and chairman of Intel Corporation was ranked second. In 2001, he and his wife, Betty, poured half their wealth into their eponymous foundation, which has doled out about $3 billion in grants in support of environmental conservation, scientific research and patient care.

The researchers behind the study noted that their method is, in some ways, more accurate than just ranking charitable donations by the amount given.

For example, the researchers noted, if Jim Walton, founder of Walmart, gave away $350 million this year -- that would appear, on the surface, to be a considerable amount. But after taking into account that he’s worth $34.5 billion, that gift would only account for 1 percent of his net worth.

Bill Gates –- whose foundation has given $28 billion since it was established –- ranked third on the list. But part of his overall generosity, which would be difficult to measure, is how he has inspired other moguls to give away enormous amounts of money.

Four years ago, Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett founded the Giving Pledge, an initiative that encourages the world’s wealthiest people to commit half their fortune to charity. To date, the pledge has more than 120 signatories, which includes George Lucas, fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.

Gates noted on Tuesday during an interview at TED2014 in Vancouver, British Columbia, that establishing the Giving Pledge was his most "fulfilling" accomplishment.

"It’s the most fulfilling thing we’ve ever done," Gates said. "If you take from the most wealthy and give it to the least wealthy, that’s good."

While Mark Zuckerberg ranked 10th on Insider Philanthropy’s list of the most generous tech leaders, the group lauded him for "quickly planting a large philanthropic footprint." Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, gave the largest donation last year when they donated 18 million shares of Facebook stock to a Silicon Valley nonprofit, which was valued at more than $970 million. They were the youngest donors to ever top the Chronicle’s annual list.

Zuckerberg and Chan have the potential to unseat Insider Philanthropy's most charitable tech moguls. Zuckerberg set the pace for his giving in 2010 when he joined the Giving Pledge, and gave his first consequential gift -- pledging a $100 million grant to help reform the Newark, N.J., public school system.

"Every child deserves a good education. Right now that’s not happening," he said on "Oprah" when making the grant announcement. "I’ve had a lot of opportunities in my life, a lot of that comes from having gone to really good schools. I just want to do what I can to make sure that everyone has those same opportunities."



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