In a series of tweets, Dorsey said he was transferring $1 billion of his equity stake in Square, the payments processor he co-founded, to his charity fund, Start Small LLC. Grants awarded by the fund will be tracked in a publicly accessible Google sheet. As of April 7, the spreadsheet showed an initial grant of $100,000 to America's Food Fund, which was launched last week as a GoFundMe campaign by Leonardo DiCaprio and Laurene Powell Jobs and is partnering with World Central Kitchen and Feeding America to help low-income families, the elderly, children who rely on school lunch programs, and others struggling with food insecurity as a result of the virus.
Even if only a portion of the $1 billion is awarded in support of COVID-19 relief and response efforts, it would be the largest commitment announced by a U.S. tech philanthropist to address the public health crisis; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, and Jeff Bezos have each pledged $100 million for COVID-related efforts.
"Why now? The needs are increasingly urgent, and I want to see the impact in my lifetime," Dorsey tweeted. "I hope this inspires others to do something similar. Life is too short, so let's do everything we can today to help people now."
Once the COVID-19 emergency has been addressed, Start Small will shift its focus to girls' health and education and efforts related to universal basic income (UBI), Dorsey tweeted, which "represent the best long-term solutions to the existential problems facing the world."
In using a limited liability company as a vehicle for his giving, Dorsey joins other prominent tech philanthropists, including Laura and John Arnold, Laurene Powell Jobs (Emerson Collective), Pierre and Pam Omidyar (Omidyar Network), and Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan (Chan Zuckerberg Initiative). Dorsey has faced criticism in the past for a lack of transparency around his philanthropy and emphasized in a tweet that "all transfers, sales, and grants will be made public."
"Why the transparency? It's important to show my work so I and others can learn," he tweeted. "I've discovered and funded ($40mm) many orgs with proven impact and efficiency in the past, mostly anonymously."