The decision by Mark Zuckerberg to give away 99% of his Facebook shares to charity has some interesting details that largely went unnoticed. Zuckerberg took unique measures to make sure that his holdings are used in a way that is to his liking. It seems that Zuckerberg had more than just charitable causes on his mind when he made the decision.
When Bill and Melinda Gates established their charitable cause, they set it up as a private trust fund. However, Zuckerberg’s is a limited liability corporation (LLC). This is quite unusual for a philanthropic cause.
Vice president of philanthropy and society at the Aspen Institute Jane Wales said, “I’ve never seen someone set up an LLC exclusively for a philanthropic purpose before. Normally they set up a foundation for the tax advantages of doing so.”
It also appears that much of the money donated by Zuckerberg will be used for political purposes. In the official description of Zuckerberg’s new LLC, it is stated that money will be used to make private investments and participate in policy debates. Indeed, it seems that much of the money will be used to support Zuckerberg’s political agenda.
Zuckerberg even said in an open letter to his newborn daughter Max, “We must participate in policy and advocacy to shape debates.”
This likely explains why Zuckerberg established an LLC instead of a traditional tax-exempt charitable foundation. While an LLC might have tax disadvantages, a charitable foundation would have been forbidden from lobbying lawmakers and engaging in political activities. Thus, by going with an LLC, Zuckerberg is able to accomplish his real goals, while still looking like a very generous fellow.
So even though the internet might be applauding Zuckerberg for his $46 billion “donation”, he is actually just using the money to fund his own political viewpoints. All the while, he looks like a very great man for giving his fortune away. But in reality, it was just a cleverly disguised move.