The Silicon Valley Community Foundation, which already had some $10 billion in reported assets at the end of 2022, is now $1.1 billion richer after a donation from Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings. Hasting made the gift in the form of 2 million shares of Netflix. This donation is equal to around 40% of his total stake in Netflix.
The donation syncs up with a similar one made by Mark Zuckerberg in 2014, when he donated over $1 billion worth of Facebook stock to the same foundation. The foundation has become a popular recipient of large charitable donations by leaders in the tech industry thanks to a combination of discretion, privacy, and the usual tax breaks, which can be employed immediately even if the money doesn’t actually go towards any outward cause for years after the gift is made.
In fact, the SVCF was founded in 2007 expressly to help tech executives direct their philanthropic gifts towards charitable causes. The foundation is eventually required to divulge the causes it redirects the money to, but not where it originally came from, which offers an extra layer of security in privacy to individuals like Hastings and Zuckerberg who might not be craving any extra attention for some of their philanthropic donations. It uses a system known as donor-advised funds that function differently from normal charitable organizations and offer certain financial benefits to the donor. Critics say they give tax breaks to wealthy donors without the money having to go directly towards any specific charity, while conventional private foundations are required to publicize details of giving and have to disperse money within a given timeframe.
Hastings made his gift of two million Netflix shares just as the company hit a two-year high on the stock market. In May 2022, when the stock was at $180, vs. today’s $565, two million shares would have been worth around $375 million.