The world’s richest person made the largest charitable contribution last year, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s annual list of top donations, with a 10 billion dollar (£7.3 billion) gift intended to help fight climate change.
Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos, whose “real-time” worth Forbes magazine estimates at roughly 188 billion dollars (£138 billion), used the contribution to launch his Bezos Earth Fund.
The fund, which supports non-profit organisations involved in tackling the climate crisis, has paid 790 million dollars (£582 million) to 16 groups so far, according to the Chronicle.
Setting aside Mr Bezos’s whopping gift, the sum total of the top 10 donations last year — 2.6 billion dollars (£1.9 billion) — was the lowest since 2011, even as many billionaires vastly increased their wealth in the stock market rally that catapulted technology shares in particular last year.
— The Chronicle of Philanthropy (@Philanthropy) January 4, 2021
#According to Americans for Tax Fairness and the Institute for Policy Studies, from March 18 to December 7, Mr Bezos’s wealth surged by 63%, from 113 billion (£83 billion) to 184 billion dollars (£135 billion).
Phil Knight of Nike, who with his wife Penny made the second and third-largest donations last year, according to the Chronicle, increased his wealth by about 77% over the same period. The couple gave more than 900 million dollars (£663 million) to the Knight Foundation and 300 million dollars (£221 million) to the University of Oregon.
Fred Kummer, founder of construction company HBE Corporation, and his wife June gave 300 million dollars (£221 million) to establish a foundation to support programmes at the Missouri University of Science and Technology.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, delivered the fourth-largest donation: a 250 million dollar (£184 million) gift to the Centre for Tech and Civic Life, which worked on voting security issues in the 2020 election.
Mr Zuckerberg, whose wealth nearly doubled to 105 billion dollars (£77 billion) in the March-to-December period, according to Americans for Tax Fairness and the Institute for Policy Studies, has been widely criticised and been called to give evidence before Congress for his company’s handling of disinformation in the run-up to the presidential election.
In the fifth spot was Arthur Blank, co-founder of Home Depot, who gave 200 million dollars (£147 million) through his foundation to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to build a new hospital.
Mr Bezos and the Zuckerbergs made up the next spots on last year’s top 10 list, with 100 million dollar (£73 million) donations — Mr Bezos for Feeding America to aid food banks across the country, and the Zuckerbergs to the same election security group.
They were followed by Stephen Ross, founder of real estate firm Related Companies; David Roux, co-founder of Silver Lake Partners, a private-equity firm, and his wife Barbara; George and Renee Karfunkel, real-estate investors; Bernard Marcus, co-founder of Home Depot; and Charles Schwab, founder of Schwab Financial Services, and his wife Helen.
Two billionaires who donated heavily to charity last year — MacKenzie Scott, Mr Bezos’s former wife, and Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter — did not make the Chronicle’s list because no single donation of theirs was large enough to qualify.