Jeff Bezos giving $10 billion to fight climate change in February was the single largest donation of 2020

Image
Jeff Bezos. MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images
  • The $US10 billion Jeff Bezos gave in February to launch the Bezos Earth Fund, an initiative that seeks to fight climate change, has been called the single-largest charitable gift of 2020 byThe Chronicle of Philanthropy.
  • Each year, the Chronicle releases its annual list of the top-10 gifts publicly given by individuals or their foundations and donor-advised funds. For the year, the top 10 comes to more than $US12.2 billion collectively.
  • He announced the $US10 billion donation gift in February of last year via Instagram , where he called climate change the “biggest threat to our planet.” His announcement came before the World Health Organisation deemed COVID-19 a pandemic in March.
  • Out of the $US10 billion, Bezos announced in November that $US791 million has already been given out to at least 16 organisations.
  • Bezos is among the billionaires that have seen their net worth skyrocket amid the pandemic. His net worth currently stands at $US186 billion , and he made over $US70 billion last year, as reported by Insider’s Juliana Kaplan .
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The $US10 billion Jeff Bezos gave in February to launch the Bezos Earth Fund, an initiative seeking to combat climate change, has been deemed the single-largest charitable gift of 2020 by The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Bezos announced the multibillion-dollar gift and the creation of the Bezos Earth Fund on Instagram. His announcement came before the World Health Organisation deemed COVID-19 a pandemic in March. Out of the $US10 billion, Bezos announced in November that $US791 million has already been given out to at least 16 organisations.

“Climate change is the biggest threat to our planet,” Bezos wrote in an Instagram caption in February. “I want to work alongside others both to amplify known ways and to explore new ways of fighting the devastating impact of climate change on this planet we all share.”

Amazon declined further comment, while Jeff Bezos did not respond to a request for comment from Insider.

Bezos’ $US10 billion announcement came after his ex-wife, MacKenzie Scott, had pledged to give away most of her wealth back in 2019. As Insider previously reported, Scott has since given away nearly $US6 billion since her multibillion-dollar divorce from Bezos.

Bezos’ net worth soared during the pandemic and amid the pandemic, in June, when his net worth was $US143 billion, he gave $US100 million to Feeding America and about $US25 million to the relief effort All in WA, as reported by the Washington Post.

In total, the Chronicle estimates the top 10 contributors gave more than $US12.2 billion last year, including the $US10 billion given by Bezos.

While the donations number in the billions, they pale in comparison to the surge in wealth that the world’s richest saw last year amid the pandemic. As previously reported by Insider’s Juliana Kaplan, the net worth of the world’s richest grew nearly $US1 trillion last year, including an increase of more than $US70 billion for Bezos.

He currently stands as the world’s richest man with a net worth of $US186 billion and has — unlike his ex-wife — yet to sign the Giving Pledge, where participants promise to give away more than half their wealth.

When Bezos announced the $US10 billion gift last February, his net worth was at around $US130 billion — meaning the $US10 billion constituted about 7.7% of his net worth. Today, with a net worth of $US186 billion, $US10 billion is about 5.4% of his wealth.

None of the donations given by Scott, which included $US40 million to the HBCU Morgan State University, were individually large enough to snag a spot on the Chronicle’s list.

Instead, topping the list was Bezos, followed by Nike cofounder Phil Knight and his wife Penny, who gave $US900 million to their Knight Foundation and $US300 million to the University of Oregon.

Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, also were in the top 10 for donating to the Centre of Tech and Civic Life, which uses technology to ensure safer and more reliable elections. Zuckerberg and Chan donated $US300 million to the organisation in September and then gave another $US100 million in October before the 2020 Presidential Election.