NET WORTH: $1.43 billion
SOURCE OF WEALTH: COO of Facebook, former Google executive, best-selling author
FUNDING AREAS: Women's Issues, Global Health, Poverty, Environment
OVERVIEW: Sandberg has a very high profile right now, and her past experience in running Google.org gives us an idea where her philanthropy may go in the future.
BACKGROUND: Sheryl Sandberg graduated from Harvard with a degree in economics, where then professor Larry Summers recruited her to be his research assistant at the World Bank. While there, Sandberg worked on projects dealing with health problems such as blindness, leprosy, and AIDS in India. Later on, she went back to Harvard and earned an MBA. Shortly after earning her graduate degree, Sandberg and Summers reunited and she became his chief of staff while he served as secretary of the Department of the Treasury under President Clinton. Sandberg led the Treasury's work on forgiving debt in the developing world during the Asian financial crisis.
When her work at the DOT was through, Sandberg started working at Google, Inc., where she served as vice president of global online sales and operations. There, she was responsible for online sales of Google's advertising and publishing products and also ran Google Book Search. She also was instrumental in starting Google.org, the company's philanthropic arm. In 2008, Sandberg moved to Facebook as the company's COO, where she helped establish Facebook's philanthropic vision. In recent years, Sandberg has been named one of Fortune magazine's 50 Most Powerful Women in Business, Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world, and the Wall Street Journal's 50 Women to Watch.
PHILOSOPHY: In a short video in which she discusses the creation of Google.org, Sandberg says she considers her approach to philanthropy to be innovative. First, she wants to do things that matter, not just things that are easy. She noted that most charities have gone from the wealthy to the wealthy. She said she wanted Google.org to work outside those limits and focus on the worst problems that plague everyone — specifically, climate change, global health, and global poverty. Five years after her departure, these areas represent the main focus of Google.org.
At Facebook, one of her signature acts thus far has been to make organ donor status more prominent on each user's profile, potentially saving many lives. While it's pretty clear that she understands that her role within Google and now Facebook have given her the opportunity to leverage their power to do good, on a personal level her giving has been done much more quietly. According to a recent Facebook SEC filing, she gave away more than 429,000 shares of Facebook stock, worth $11.8 million, to an undisclosed recipient. That money may have gone to launch her new organization Lean In, which focuses on empowering women, but there's no way to know for sure.
WOMEN'S CAUSES: In early 2013, Sandberg founded an organization called Lean In, which hopes to inspire and encourage women. She sits on the board of directors for Women for Women International, which has a humanitarian mission of helping women survivors of war become self-sufficient by providing microloans and job skills training. The charity works through a sponsorship model, in which a donor contributes a set amount each month and the sponsored "sister" gets the assistance she needs. Sandberg also sits on the boards of the Center for Global Development, a non-profit think tank that focuses on international development matters, and V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women and girls. In early 2015, Sandberg and her husband gave $25,000 to the Enough SAID campaign, a Detroit-based sexual assault organization that will use the funds to test forgotten rape kits.
LOOKING FORWARD: Sandberg's main focus continues to be the empowerment of women, leading up to involvement in causes such as health, education, and economic development. Her new book, which will be pubkished in 2017 and currently titled "Option B," will focus on themes of resilience, exploring "what it takes to help others through hardships: how to speak about the unspeakable, comfort friends in the wake of suffering, and create resilient workplaces, build robust marriages, and raise strong kids."
- Rachel Thomas, Cofounder and President, Lean In, firstname.lastname@example.org