Friday, May 24, 2024

Data-Driven Philanthropy: How Yuri Milner and Two Other Giving Pledge Signatories Give Strategically

The Giving Pledge invites billionaires to publicly commit to donating most of their wealth during their lifetimes or in their wills. Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda French Gates created the Giving Pledge in 2010. The movement inspires wealthy individuals to give more generously, establish their giving plans sooner, and donate in smarter ways.

Certain Giving Pledge signatories, like Yuri Milner, have wholeheartedly embraced this strategic approach to philanthropy. Here’s how he and two other Giving Pledge philanthropists are employing scientific, data-driven methods for charitable giving.

Jeff T. Green

Jeff T. Green founded the advertising tech firm The Trade Desk in 2009. Now a Nasdaq-listed company, The Trade Desk’s revenue was $1.6 billion in 2022.

The billionaire signed the Giving Pledge in 2021. He has vowed to give away over 90% of his wealth before or at his death through data-driven philanthropy. His family foundation and its giving arm Dataphilanthropy supports numerous projects that create far-reaching impact.

Jeff T. Green believes that “passionate, yet-data-driven, rational philanthropy” is the key to addressing the world’s toughest problems. Dataphilanthropy tracks data to understand the progress of its efforts and highlight areas for improved giving. The organization has funded over 20 non-profits, including:

The Ruth Cheatham Foundation, which offers scholarships to youth and young adult cancer survivors.
Cal State University Channel Islands, which provides scholarships to first-generation students or those overcoming unique challenges.
Equality Utah, which advocates for equality for Utah’s LGBTQ+ community. Dataphilanthropy funded a new scholarship program for the organization in 2022.

Steven Schuurman

Steven Schuurman is a Dutch tech entrepreneur who co-founded the software companies Elastic and SpringSource. Having joined the Giving Pledge in 2021, he takes inspiration from the scientific community as to how to give back. He believes that choosing causes to support should not rely on sentiment or personal emotions, but on maximizing positive impact.

“The beauty of this science-based approach is that it’s objective and pure,” Steven Schuurman wrote in his pledge letter. His philanthropy focuses on the climate crisis, pandemics, and other pressing issues facing humanity.

Steven Schuurman has donated $1.5 million to two leading youth climate groups: Earth Uprising and Fridays for Future. He believes these groups can expedite change by putting pressure on policymakers.

In 2021, Steven Schuurman founded the International Center for Future Generations. The think tank addresses the threats of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI).

On top of this, Steven Schuurman is the founder and chairman of FutureNL. The non-profit fosters digital literacy among Dutch primary and secondary school children.

Yuri Milner

Yuri Milner is a tech entrepreneur who founded DST Global, a successful internet investment company. He and his wife Julia joined the Giving Pledge in 2012.

In the same year, the couple co-founded the Breakthrough Prize with Sergey Brin and fellow Giving Pledge signatories Mark Zuckerberg, Priscilla Chan, and Anne Wojcicki. The Breakthrough Prize rewards the world’s greatest scientists and mathematicians with $3 million prizes.

A former theoretical physicist, Yuri Milner’s Giving Pledge commitment focuses on investing in “our leading minds and our shared future.” His short book Eureka Manifesto: The Mission for Our Civilization emphasizes the importance of investing in fundamental research. He believes embracing science and critical thinking can help humanity thrive into the future.

Yuri Milner’s pledge letter explains that the Giving Pledge has brought “something approaching the scientific method to philanthropy.” He believes that the movement encourages billionaires to “learn from real-world experience and experiment in order to give effectively.”

Aside from the Breakthrough Prize, Julia and Yuri Milner’s charitable foundation supports Tech For Refugees, the Breakthrough Initiatives, and the Breakthrough Junior Challenge.

The Milners launched Tech For Refugees in 2022 in response to the escalation of war in Ukraine. The non-profit funds refugee relief programs empowered by technology. Meanwhile, the Breakthrough Initiatives are a series of research projects hoping to answer big questions in science, such as whether aliens exist.

The Breakthrough Junior Challenge is an annual global science video competition for high school students. Each year, the competition winner receives a $250,000 college scholarship and other prizes for their school and teacher.

Learn more about Yuri Milner’s science philanthropy.

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