Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Day 39° Partly Cloudy
News >  Nation/World

Amazon’s Bezos tops list of richest charitable gifts in 2020

UPDATED: Mon., Jan. 4, 2021

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos arrives Sept. 19, 2019, to a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.  (Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos arrives Sept. 19, 2019, to a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Associated Press

Associated Press

SILVER SPRING, Md. – The world’s richest person made the single-largest charitable contribution in 2020, according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s annual list of top donations, a $10 billion gift that is intended to help fight climate change.

Amazon’s founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, whose “real-time” worth Forbes magazine estimates at roughly $188 billion, used the contribution to launch his Bezos Earth Fund. The fund, which supports nonprofits involved in the climate crisis, has paid out $790 million to 16 groups so far, according to the Chronicle.

Setting aside Bezos’ whopping gift, though, the sum total of the top 10 donations last year – $2.6 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. According to the left-leaning Americans for Tax Fairness and the Institute for Policy Studies, from March 18 through Dec. 7, 2020, Bezos’ wealth surged by 63%, from $113 billion to $184 billion.

Phil Knight, 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 March-to-December period.

Knight and his wife gave more than $900 million to the Knight Foundation and $300 million to the University of Oregon.

Fred Kummer, founder of construction company HBE Corporation, and his wife, June, gave $300 to establish a foundation to support programs at the Missouri University of Science and Technology.

Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, delivered the fourth-largest donation on the Chronicle’s list: A $250 million gift to the Center for Tech and Civic Life, which worked on voting security issues in the 2020 election.

Zuckerberg, whose wealth nearly doubled to $105 billion in the March-to-December period according to Americans for Tax Fairness and the Institute for Policy Studies, has been widely criticized and been called to testify before Congress for his company’s handling of disinformation in the runup to the 2020 presidential election.

In the fifth spot was Arthur Blank, co-founder of Home Depot, who gave $200 million through his foundation to Children’s healthcare of Atlanta to build a new hospital.

Bezos and the Zuckerbergs made up the next spots on last year’s top 10 list, with $100 million donations – 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, Bezos’ 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.

The YMCA of the Inland Northwest and Goodwill Industries of the Inland Northwest each received $10 million from Scott. Other in-state recipients of funds from Scott include the YWCA of Walla Walla, YMCA of Greater Seattle and YWCA of Seattle, Walla Walla Community College and Easterseals Washington.

In February, the Chronicle will publish its list of the 50 biggest donors, which counts cumulative donations, not individual gifts.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.