Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO, has just given away approximately $31 million worth of Facebook stock to charity. The high-profile executive signed The Giving Pledge back in 2014, a commitment by the world’s wealthiest individuals to dedicate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy. This news comes just months after Sandberg’s husband passed away from cancer, when she wrote a heartfelt Facebook post in homage to her spouse which was shared by hundreds of thousands of users across the globe.
The 290,000 shares were transferred to the Sheryl Sandberg Philanthropy Fund, a donor-advised fund which will take control of the awarded stock while still allowing Sandberg to steer the money towards causes that she cares about. Sandberg has been historically focused on the areas of Women’s Issues, Global Health, Poverty and Environment. It is expected that a large portion of the donation will be awarded to Lean In, an organization founded by the Facebook COO dedicated to helping all women achieve their ambitions. Women For Women International is another likely recipient: the nonprofit offers support, tools, and access to life-changing skills for marginalized women in countries affected by war and conflict; Sheryl Sandberg sits on their board. She also reportedly plans to give money to education groups and anti-poverty efforts.
This significant transfer of funds was first reported by Re/code on Thursday, and was discovered in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. According to the document, the transfer took place on November 20th 2015; the stock price closed around $107 that day.
This isn’t the first time that Sandberg has donated large sums of money. In 2012, she gave away 429,184 shares of Facebook stock, worth approximately $11.8 million, to an undisclosed recipient. The transfer was also made on November 20th, the same date as her most recent gift.
Sandberg’s announcement comes mere weeks after a similarly high-profile pledge: in early December, following the birth of their first child, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan pledged to donate 99% of their Facebook shares over the course of their lifetimes. Like his COO and friend Sandberg, Zuckerberg too had signed The Giving Pledge.
These announcements are extremely promising, not only because of their direct impact but also for the future of philanthropy. Sandberg and Zuckerberg’s actions may inspire other millionaires and billionaires to follow their lead and sign the Pledge, and eventually give back some of their tremendous wealth to the community at large.