NET WORTH: $2.2 billion
SOURCE of WEALTH: Twitter, Square
FUNDING AREAS: Entrepreneurship, education, global development
OVERVIEW: Dorsey’s record of charitable contributions so far has been modest, but he has been known to use his social media power to raise funds for charity: water, and to auction off time with himself to support entrepreneurship and education. In 2015, he set aside a large chunk of Square stock for a new foundation.
BACKGROUND: Dorsey grew up in St. Louis, and took an early interest in computer programming. He attended the Missouri University of Science & Technology before transferring to NYU, where he came up with the idea that eventually became Twitter. After moving to Oakland, he worked on software to dispatch couriers, taxis, and emergency services from the web. He approached a company called Odeo with the idea of a simple status sharing platform—leading to creation of Twitter. Dorsey serves as executive chair of Twitter, Inc.; his other company, Square, could have an equally large impact on his fortune.
PHILOSOPHY: “It's pretty important to do public good and I think both platforms [Twitter and Square] are enabling more of that,” Dorsey said in an interview with Business Insider. “We have charities on Square who are using it every day at fundraisers, we have charities on Twitter who are talking about what's important to them and what matters.”
ENTREPRENEURSHIP & EDUCATION: Dorsey has auctioned off a lunch with himself and two internships at Square to benefit Build.org, whose mission is to use entrepreneurship to excite and propel disengaged, low-income students through high school to college success. The internships, which were auctioned in 2011 and 2012, raised $60,000 for the organization. Bidding on the lunch started at $5,000. Twitter also gave a $10 million grant to MIT for the purposes of analyzing how best to put social media data to use.
GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT: Dorsey is a supporter of charity: water, and in 2010 visited villages in Ethiopia that received a well sponsored by Dorsey and his Twitter followers.
LOCAL DEVELOPMENT: After filing for an initial public offering for his company Square, Dorsey indicated that he would donate 20 percent of its stock to the Start Small Foundation, a charity he set up to serve disadvantaged communities—the first of which would be Ferguson, Missouri.
LOOKING FORWARD: Look for Dorsey to become a more active philanthropist in education and global development, but expect more of an approach that supports entrepreneurship, and leveraging his time and charitable dollars to increase giving to others—or even perhaps to his own employees. He is the president, board chair and director of Start Small Foundation, but grant seekers are still waiting for the foundation to leverage the weight of its leader in the philanthropic arena.
CONTACT: Twitter: @jack