Canva CEO commits at least $6 billion “to do the most good”

by 22tom2 min read15th Sep 20214 comments

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Melanie Perkins, the CEO of Canva, recently announced that they intend to donate the “vast majority of their equity to do good in the world”. This comes out to at least $6 billion. I think this is awesome news and a potentially exciting opportunity for the EA community.

As reported in several media outlets, Canva has recently been valued at $40 billion USD. Following this, Melanie Perkins (Canva’s CEO) outlined in a blog post their vision, through a simple Two-Step plan:

With a $40 billion valuation, Canva has made a lot of progress on step 1. To achieve step 2, Melanie and her husband and co-founder, Cliff, have “committed the vast majority of their equity (30% of Canva) to do good in the world”, through the Canva Foundation.[1] This works out to be the equivalent of at least $6 billion USD, and potentially more.[2] To put this into perspective, that would be more than 10 times that of all Giving What We Can pledges (using Ben Todd’s estimates).

Canva have already taken the 1% pledge,[3] but are now looking to expand their philanthropy further. Excitingly for EAs, this starts with a $10 million pilot program with GiveDirectly in South Africa. They then “hope to rapidly scale this more broadly and to contribute to the lives of as many people across the globe as we can.” [emphasis added]

This strikes me as both awesome news and an exciting opportunity. What could/should EAs do about this? I have some very tentative suggestions:

  1. Find out more. I heard about this today, and have only spent ~1 hour Googling. Investigating more about this news and the Canva Foundation seems potentially worthwhile, to get a better grip on what this could mean for EAs.
  2. Maybe nothing. There are potential backfire risks when doing outreach, the CEO may have their own priorities, or perhaps the money is already committed to EA causes, so action is less valuable.
  3. Something else? I have spent very little time looking into this, but would be interested in other people's thoughts.

Disclaimer: I have no associations or affiliations with Canva.


  1. From some Googling, it seems that the Canva Foundation was registered with the Australian government in May 2020. Their stated objective is “providing benevolent relief to people and communities in need in Australia and around the world, by and without limitation: (a) improving access to quality education for disadvantaged youth; (b) providing benevolent support to people in need when a crisis strikes; (c) establishing collaborative partnerships with other benevolent institutions to promote, support and amplify their activities; (d) doing such other things or activities which are necessary, incidental or conducive to the attainment of these objects.” ↩︎

  2. $40 billion x 30% x 50%. However, “vast majority” could mean much more than 50%, potentially reaching double-digit billions. ↩︎

  3. Pledge 1% encourages firms to give 1% of their equity, profits, time or product away. However, they don’t seem to focus on that money being spent effectively (as far as I can tell). ↩︎

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We at Founders Pledge are working on having this conversation with the Canva founders as well. I will update as and when we have more information. 

I think the best way for this kind of thing would be if some important donor (who they may know personally already) invites them directly to talk to GiveWell, for example, rather than us trying to sell the idea. Personal connections are the best way I can think of. And then books, some events... all help a bit, but I'd start with who they know.

I use Canva Pro every day because it's totally free for registered nonprofits, so this is really cool news :)