Home / Tech / Jeff Bezos is one of few US top billionaires who hasn’t signed the Giving Pledge. Here's how much the Amazon CEO has given to charity

Jeff Bezos is one of few US top billionaires who hasn’t signed the Giving Pledge. Here's how much the Amazon CEO has given to charity

jeff bezos

  • Jeff Bezos is the richest person in the world, with an estimated net worth of $114 billion.
  • Bezos’ most recent — and biggest — donation was the launch of a $2 billion fund in September, but he’s been criticized for not giving away more.
  • The Amazon CEO is the only American among the world’s five richest people who has not signed the the Giving Pledge, in which participants promise to give away more than half of their wealth during their lifetime or in their will. 
  • These are the donations Bezos is known to have made since becoming a billionaire in 1997.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos may be the richest person in the world, but he isn’t well-known for his billion-dollar donations and philanthropic efforts like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.

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 lifetime or in their will. 

Among the five richest people in America, Jeff Bezos — with a net worth of $114 billion — is the only one who hasn’t signed onto the philanthropic commitment. 

It’s not clear why Bezos has avoided joining the Giving Pledge, an initiative started by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet 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’s 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 reportedly hasn’t received contributions from Jeff Bezos himself.

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 $2 billion fund for education programs for the homeless. Still, that donation reportedly represented only about 1.3% of his net worth at the time.

Here are all the major donations Jeff Bezos is known to have given to charity since becoming a billionaire in 1997:

SEE ALSO: MacKenzie Bezos just pledged to give away half her fortune during her lifetime, something Jeff Bezos, the richest person in the world, has avoided doing

August 2011: $10 million to the Museum of History & Industry, Seattle.

Bezos’ $10 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 & Industry is located just a few blocks from Amazon’s headquarter near downtown Seattle.

December 2011: $15 million to Princeton University’s Neuroscience Institute.

The $15 million donation went toward creating a center studying neurological disorders at Princeton’s Neuroscience Institute. The Bezos Center for Neural Circuit Dynamics opened in late 2013 on Princeton’s campus in New Jersey.

Bezos and his ex-wife, MacKenzie, are both graduates of Princeton University — Jeff Bezos studied electrical engineering and computer science, while MacKenzie Bezos majored in english.

July 2012: $2.5 million to Washington United for Marriage, a same-sex marriage advocacy group.

Bezos and his wife at the time, MacKenzie, donated $2.5 million to a group called Washington United for Marriage. The group was raising funds at the time for a campaign for Referendum 74, a state referendum that would legalize same-sex marriage in Washington if approved.

The donation from the Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos reportedly doubled the organization’s campaign fundraising. The referendum appeared on the ballot in November 2012 and was approved.

 

January 2013: $500,000 to Worldreader, a nonprofit for providing access to e-books and e-readers.

Bezos pledged a half 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 organization’s programs in African countries, including Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, and Rwanda.

May 2016: $1 million pledge to match donations to Mary’s Place, a homeless nonprofit in Seattle.

Bezos pledged to match up to $1 million in donations given to Mary Place during Seattle’s annual GiveBIG day of philanthropy in 2016. Mary’s Place, a nonprofit providing housing to Seattle’s homeless, exceeded its $1 million goal that year, bringing the organization’s fundraising total to more than $2 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: $1 million to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press,.

The $1 million gift was the largest personal contribution ever to the nonprofit, which advocates and provides resources for journalists and the First Amendment rights. RCFP’s executive director called the donation “an institution-changing gift” for the nonprofit.

Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post, a historic newspaper he bought for $250 million in August 2013.

January 2018: $33 million to TheDream.us, a nonprofit funding 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 $33 million donation came during a time when President 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: $10 million to With Honor, a PAC for electing military veterans.

Bezos’ first major political donation was a $10 million donation to With Honor, a bipartisan PAC that backs military veterans running for election to Congress.

September 2018: $2 billion Bezos Day One Fund launched to support education programs for homeless.

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 education programs in underserved communities.

The first round of donations, announced in November, went toward organizations 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.”