Lessons for Mark Zuckerberg and Tomorrow’s Philanthropists

What happens when the money runs out? How to secure a long-term impact through philanthropy.

When people want to make a difference, they often reach for their checkbooks. A very public example is Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder of Facebook, who recently wrote a $100 million check to benefit the Newark public school system. This is a generous act, but individuals and businesses alike would be wise to consider how they can really make the most impact. With so many resources necessary (and available) to make social change happen, is giving money really the best path to making the greatest impact?

Zuckerberg’s action is indicative of an emerging trend. The “new entrepreneur” wants to make money while defining his or her social “footprint.” Unlike the old guard, which waited to donate money post-retirement, the new entrepreneur represents a union of real-time business ambition and social-impact intent. But if new entrepreneurs like Zuckerberg want to achieve the goal of uniting money and meaning, and of shattering the firewall between profit and purpose, they need to understand that philanthropic contributions are inherently different from business investments.

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