Sheryl Sandberg has made what is reportedly her largest single charitable effort, transferring 880,000 shares of Facebook stock—worth about $100 million—into a fund that will benefit a few of her pet causes. Sources told Recode that Sandberg intends to use the donor-advised fund to benefit organizations that work for women’s empowerment, against poverty, and to help people through the grieving process. These include Kara (where Sandberg attended grief counseling after her husband’s death), Second Harvest Food Bank (where she says she and her children volunteer), and Sandberg’s own Lean In Foundation.
Sandberg is also making moves to rename her signature foundation in honor of her late husband, former SurveyMonkey CEO Dave Goldberg, who died suddenly in 2015. The Sheryl Sandberg & Dave Goldberg Family Foundation will encompass both Lean In and Sandberg’s new initiative, Option B, which takes its name from a friend’s advice to “kick the shit out of Option B” when Option A (having her husband around) was eliminated. Option B is also the title of a forthcoming book Sandberg has written with management scholar Adam Grant, set to publish in April. Both the organization and the book will explore the effects of personal setbacks, overcoming adversity, and “post-traumatic growth.”
Lean In and Option B will both garner funding from Sandberg’s $100 million stock transfer. Sandberg’s last big donation, a $31 million chunk of stock she put into a philanthropic fund in 2015, was also set aside for Lean In and similar organizations. Forbes estimates Sandberg’s net worth as $1.25 billion; as a signatory of the Giving Pledge, she has vowed to give away more than half of her fortune during her lifetime.
That promises to be a hefty sum for the cause of women’s workplace advancement. Unfortunately, Lean In has stumbled confusedly in and around conversations about gender equity—the organization tried to hire unpaid interns, advised women to behave in totally contradictory ways in the office, ignored structural injustices that keep women and mothers from career success, and feted a politician who has worked to dismantle reproductive health infrastructure and equal pay efforts. With an influx of funding that will likely make the well-known organization an even more visible player in the women’s empowerment space, Lean In could stand to refine its message to match its influence.