- Jeff Bezos is the richest person, with an estimated net worth of $US114 billion.
- Bezos’ most recent – and biggest – donation was the launch of a $US2 billion fund in September, but he’s been criticised for not giving away more.
- The AmazonCEO is the only American among the world’s five richest people who has not signed the Giving Pledge, in which participants promise to give away more than half of their wealth during their lifetimes or in their wills.
- These are the donations Bezos is known to have made since becoming a billionaire in 1997.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Additional light was recently shed on Bezos’ charitable donations after news that his ex-wife, MacKenzie Bezos, had signed the Giving Pledge, in which participants promise to give away more than half of their wealth during their lifetimes or in their wills.
Among the five richest people in America, Jeff Bezos, who has a net worth of $US114 billion, is the only one who hasn’t signed on to the philanthropic commitment.
It’s not clear why Bezos has avoided joining the Giving Pledge, an initiative started by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett almost a decade ago. His charitable history has “remained largely a mystery,” The New York Times wrote in 2017 after Bezos posted a “request for ideas” for philanthropy on Twitter.
A nonprofit bearing Bezos’ last name, the Bezos Family Foundation, has given millions of dollars to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. However, the fund is run entirely by the Amazon CEO’s parents and hasn’t received contributions from Bezos himself, according to Inside Philanthropy.
Additionally, Bezos had never appeared on the annual list of America’s 50 largest donors until 2018, when he took the top spot with the launch of a $US2 billion fund for education programs for the homeless. Still, that donation represented only about 1.3% of his net worth at the time, according to Quartz.
Here are all the major donations Bezos is known to have given to charity since becoming a billionaire in 1997:
August 2011: $US10 million to the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle.
Bezos’ $US10 million grant was used to establish the museum’s Bezos Center for Innovation, which highlights companies that have gotten their starts in Seattle – including Microsoft, Costco, Boeing, and UPS.
The innovation center was officially unveiled in October 2013. The Museum of History and Industry is just a few blocks from Amazon’s headquarter near downtown Seattle.
December 2011: $US15 million to Princeton Neuroscience Institute.
The $US15 million donation went toward creating a center studying neurological disorders at Princeton Neuroscience Institute. The Bezos Center for Neural Circuit Dynamics opened in late 2013 on Princeton’s campus in New Jersey.
July 2012: $US2.5 million to Washington United for Marriage, a same-sex-marriage advocacy group.
Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos, who were still married at the time, donated $US2.5 million to a group called Washington United for Marriage. The group was raising funds for a campaign for Referendum 74, a state referendum that would legalise same-sex marriage in Washington if approved.
The donation from the Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos doubled the organisation’s campaign fundraising, according to CNN Money. The referendum appeared on the ballot in November 2012 and was approved.
January 2013: $US500,000 to Worldreader, a nonprofit that provides access to e-books and e-readers.
Bezos pledged half a million dollars to Worldreader, a nonprofit that supplies children in underdeveloped countries with access to digital books and e-readers. Bezos’ donation went toward boosting the organisation’s programs in African countries, including Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, and Rwanda.
May 2016: $US1 million pledge to match donations to Mary’s Place, a homeless nonprofit in Seattle.
Bezos pledged to match up to $US1 million in donations given to Mary Place during Seattle’s annual GiveBig day of philanthropy in 2016. Mary’s Place, a nonprofit that provides housing to Seattle’s homeless population, exceeded its $US1 million goal that year, bringing the organisation’s fundraising total to more than $US2 million.
Although this is the only donation Mary’s Place has received from Bezos personally, Amazon has turned part of its office space in Seattle into a homeless shelter (pictured above).
May 2017: $US1 million to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
The $US1 million gift was the largest personal contribution ever to the nonprofit, which advocates and provides resources for journalists and First Amendment rights. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press’ executive director called the donation “an institution-changing gift” for the nonprofit.
Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post, a historic newspaper he bought for $US250 million in August 2013.
January 2018: $US33 million to TheDream.us, a nonprofit that funds college scholarships for immigrants.
Bezos donated enough to fund the college education of 1,000 “Dreamers,” immigrants who were brought to the US as children. The $US33 million donation came during a time when President Donald Trump attempted to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program – known as DACA – under which these children were protected from deportation and allowed to work legally in the US.
Bezos said the donation was a nod to his father, Miguel Bezos (pictured above), who fled to the US from Cuba when he was 15. He later went on to attend college and work as an engineer at Exxon.
September 2018: $US10 million to With Honour, a PAC for electing military veterans.
September 2018: $US2 billion Bezos Day One Fund launched to support education programs for homeless families.
The Bezos Day One Fund is named after the Amazon CEO’s longstanding “Day 1” way of thinking. Bezos said he planned to use the charity to support homeless families and launch education programs in underserved communities.
The first round of donations, announced in November, went toward organisations fighting family homelessness. The fund’s website hints at more donations to come, including some that will be used to launch “a network of high-quality, full-scholarship Montessori-inspired preschools in underserved communities.”
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