Tech companies are known for skyrocketing young, entrepreneurial spirits into the stratosphere as far as income goes, but they also increasingly provide a huge source of philanthropic giving for communities in desperate need. Here’s a look at five of the biggest tech names in philanthropy and what they’re doing to support their communities and the world at large.
Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft. The man who has held the title of World’s Richest Human for 15 out of the last 20 years has also given more than any other living person. In addition to co-creating the Giving Pledge—a campaign for billionaires to commit to giving away the majority of their financial assets upon their deaths—the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given away $28 billion to charities around the world since its inception.
Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce. Benioff’s company was founded on the 1-1-1 model (1% donation of all profit; 1% donation of employee time to volunteering; 1% of product donated to non-profits), which has resulted in donations of more than 650,000 hours to local charities. In addition, Benioff has made an effort to encourage the tech community at large to give back now rather than waiting until after their deaths. “I think the main issue is that tech has to be committed to giving back to the city,” Benioff told TechCrunch. “Every company needs to have a philanthropy strategy, even from the start.”
Brendan Iribe, CEO of Oculus. After Iribe sold his virtual reality company to Facebook for $2 billion, he immediately turned around and made a $31 million donation to his alma mater, the University of Maryland, to build the Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Innovation. A portion of this, the largest donation in the history of the university, will also go tward setting up a scholarship for Computer Science students. “What fun is it to make a donation at the end of your career?” Iribe said in an interview with Vulture Beat. “This way we get to make a bigger impact and participate in the success of [the University]. The name on the building isn’t going to be a deceased person, but someone who is still out there trying to pioneer this space.”
Eric Lefkosky, CEO of Groupon. Along with his wife Liz, Lefkosky has created a $1 million partnership with Google and Motorola to launch 1871 FEMTech, an organization designed to fund 10 to 15 women-owned tech start-ups this year. The couple are devoted to improving opportunities in their hometown of Chicago, particularly with regard to increasing the number of women in the tech field.
Anna Palmer and Christine Rizk, CEOs and Founders of Fashion Project. Taking their cue from brick and mortar stores, Palmer and Rizk created an online opportunity for shoppers to find high-end fashion resales and give to charities at the same time. Site visitors can both donate their old clothes and shop for “new” finds.