NET WORTH: $390 million
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Bebo
FUNDING AREAS: Water, Criminal Justice, Battery Powered
OVERVIEW: Michael Birch and his wife Xochi have strongly supported charity:water. They also launched Batter Powered, the philanthropic arm of a social club called The Battery, though which members support nonprofits within a rotating set of themes.
BACKGROUND: Michael Birch is a British computer programmer and entrepreneur, having launched more than half a dozen tech startups over the last 15 years, including Bebo and BirthdayAlarm. His most successful company, Bebo, was the 6th largest website in England at the time of its sale to AOL, which netted Birch and his wife Xochi $595 million for their 70% stake. Birch and his wife now run several different companies, including the startup incubator Monkey Inferno, and now live in San Francisco.
WATER: Birch and Xochi are major supporters of charity:water, an organization dedicated to bringing clean and safe drinking water to those who do not have it in the developing world. They started supporting the organization in 2008 and helped raise millions through their networks. Birch also leveraged Monkey Inferno, the peer-to-peer fundraising tool he developed to create Water Forward, a social media project to raise awareness of the water crisis and give millions of people the ability to let their friends know, donate and help solve the water crisis. Xochi, meanwhile, is on the board of WildAid.
BATTERY POWERED: In 2013, Birch and Xochi opened a private members club called The Battery launched a philanthropy program called Battery Powered which has awarded over $11 million to nonprofits. Members give through rotating themes including Criminal Justice Reform and Childhood Nutrition. There are three themes annually, one local, one national, and one global. Partners have included Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and Youth ALIVE!
LOOKING FORWARD: Expect Birch to continue to look for innovative ways he can help get people more involved in fundraising and charity. Giving that is intertwined with his ventures should also be expected. As he puts it, "Traditionally philanthropy has often been about making money, retiring, and then giving some of it away, but often not until you die, kinda depressing. Philanthropy would almost always follow success. This is changing today, and as such can be intertwined with success itself."