Mark Zuckerberg's $2.5 Billion Foundation

The headline of this post is misleading since, of course, Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, have not set up a foundation.

Rather, Zuckerberg has put money into a donor-advised fund at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and also created a supporting organization of SVCF called Startup:Education, which is the outfit through which Zuckerberg and Chan do their giving, including their recent big gift for Bay Area schools. It has a staff of four people.  

Related: Four Takeaways from the New Zuckerberg and Chan Gift for Education

So, no, there's no Zuckerberg foundation, only a big endowment and a staff that helps make grants.

That $2.5 billion figure may sound off, too, since the big donations Zuckerberg has made to date to SVCF include $500 million in 2012 and then $1 billion in 2013. 

Of course, the dollar figures are not the numbers that count in those gifts. What counts is how many shares of Facebook stock Zuckerberg donated in total over two years. And that number is 36 million. 

Yesterday, Facebook reported better-than-expected earnings, and Facebook's stock accelerated its recent upward climb. Today, FB closed at $75 a share.

Do some quick math and you'll see that Zuckerberg's donations to SVCF are now worth $2.7 billion, assuming that the stock wasn't sold after it went to the foundation. We can't be sure of that, but for a bunch of reasons, it's a good bet that the pile of shares Zuckerberg donated stands largely intact in a donor-advised fund, although some shares have probably been liquidated to meet the giving commitments that Zuckerberg and Chan have made. 

In all, $2.5 billion is a solid educated guess about the current value of the couple's philanthropic assets. 

If Zuckerberg and Chan had this money sitting in a typical foundation, it would rank among the top 30 foundations in the United States—bigger than places like Mott, Knight, Carnegie, and Hilton. 

All of which underscores a point we make often here at IP: The philanthropic pecking order is changing, and fast. When the wealth of an august foundation like Carnegie can be bypassed in the span of just two years by the donor-advised fund of a twentysomething techie, you know you're living in interesting philanthropic times. 

On a more practical note, it may be time to start treating Startup:Education as a major grantmaker, albeit one still largely in waiting since it doesn't accept unsolicited proposals or offer any guidance to grantseekers.  

We'll keep digging to learn more. 

Related: IP profiles of Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan

Related: Four Things to Know About Priscilla Chan