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Zuckerberg’s pledge reflects a new era in philanthropy

By David Crary, reporter, Associated Press |

The huge philanthropic pledge by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife — totaling perhaps $45 billion — reflects the fast-paced emergence of a new Gilded Age of giving. The changes excite many in the charity world, but also raise questions about effectiveness, ethics and the impact on older charities that may not share in any windfall.

Foremost, there is applause for the new wave of philanthropists — led over the past five years by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, and subsequently joined by Zuckerberg and scores of other billionaires in the United States and abroad.

The Giving Pledge, founded in 2010 by Gates and Buffet, now has 138 billionaire signatories from 15 countries who have pledged to give away more than half of their wealth. Many, including Zuckerberg, want to be personally engaged in the oversight and management of their pledged funds, and are finding nontraditional ways of leveraging them.

Amir Pasic, dean of Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, drew parallels between these modern-day philanthropists and those from the earlier Gilded Age, roughly a century ago, when the Carnegie, Ford and Rockefeller families pioneered a new type of charitable foundation.

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