The heirs to Wal-Mart’s fortune are among the world’s wealthiest, with just four members of the Walton family estimated to be worth $US144 billion.
But the family members give very little of their own cash to their charitable foundation, according to a new report by Walmart 1 Per cent, a group supported by the union-backed Making Change at Walmart. Forbes first published a story on the report.
The foundation, which was established in 1988, spent $US325 million in 2013 on education reform, environmental conservation, and causes in Wal-Mart’s home region of Northwest Arkansas, according to its website.
The foundation has also poured roughly $US1 billion into the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark., a museum headed up by Alice Walton, the daughter of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton.
Here are some key findings from the report, which examined 23 years of the foundation’s activities:
- Rob and Alice Walton (the son and daughter of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton) made zero individual contributions to the Foundation during the 23 years examined
- Jim Walton (Sam Walton’s youngest son) made a single personal contribution of $US3 million to the Walton Family Foundation more than 15 years ago
- Rob, Jim, and Alice Walton and the family holding company they control (Walton Enterprises) have been responsible for only .13% of all contributions to the Walton Family Foundation ($6.4 million)
- Among the second generation Walton heirs, it is the in-law, Christy, who has been responsible for the largest share of contributions to the Foundation
- The four Walmart heirs and Walton Enterprises combined have been responsible for only 1.2% of all contributions to the Walton Family Foundation
- The combined lifetime contributions of the second generation Walmart heirs and their family holding company to the Walton Family Foundation come to $US58.49 million
The report points to evidence that the Waltons use the foundation to avoid estate and gift taxes, as Bloomberg first revealed in September 2013.
It also highlights the apparent disparity between the Waltons’ charitable giving and that of other billionaires, such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.
From the report:
A Walton Family Foundation representative who reviewed the report gave this statement to Forbes:
“Since 1987, the Walton family has contributed more than $US5 billion to charitable organisations and causes. Family members living and deceased have provided generously for the foundation. The family has planned for the continued growth of the foundation and intends for grant making to progressively increase over time.”
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