- 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.
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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:
August 2011: $10 million to the Museum of History & Industry, Seattle.
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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.
July 2012: $2.5 million to Washington United for Marriage, a same-sex marriage advocacy group.
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
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.
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