Jeff Bezos Vs MacKenzie Scott: How Amazon CEO has failed to match up to his ex-wife's philanthropic pledge
It might be safe to say that MacKenzie Scott is more philanthropic than her ex-husband and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who incidentally is also the richest person in the world. While she spent the end of 2020 giving away about $1 billion a month, Bezos' charitable history has "remained largely a mystery."
On Tuesday, December 15, Scott disclosed that she had donated $4 billion over the past four months to around 400 nonprofit groups. It is an open secret that while the pandemic has impacted the country's lowest-income citizens, many of the tech industry’s richest have only seen their wealth grow to staggering heights in 2020. The dual reality that Americans are living in was pointed out by Scott in a post on Medium.
“This pandemic has been a wrecking ball in the lives of Americans already struggling. Economic losses and health outcomes alike have been worse for women, for people of color, and for people living in poverty,” she wrote. “Meanwhile, it has substantially increased the wealth of billionaires.”
Scott herself got to experience the boon of 2020 as the world, being forced indoors 24/7, began relying heavily on technology and e-commerce to fulfill their daily needs. As Amazon's stocks skyrocketed -- both in the last two years as well as during the lockdown -- the $38 billion that Scott received as part of her split with Bezos, grew to over $60 billion. Just months after her divorce, Scott signed on to the Giving Pledge -- an initiative started by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet almost a decade ago -- in which participants make the commitment to give away at least half of one’s money in their lifetime or in their will.
After that she became one of the world’s billionaires who is giving away her money the fastest, parting with $1.7 billion of her fortune earlier this summer.
Meanwhile, Bezos, who currently is sitting atop a net worth of $114 billion, is yet to sign onto the philanthropic commitment. He has never given any specific reasons as to why he has avoided joining the Giving Pledge. However, he did take to Twitter in 2017 to post a "request for ideas" for philanthropy.
He does have the Bezos Family Foundation, which has given millions of dollars to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. However, it was later reported that the charitable endeavor is run entirely by the Amazon CEO's parents, and Bezos has not personally contributed any money. Until 2018, he had never appeared on the annual list of America's 50 largest donors. That year, he launched a $2 billion fund for education programs for the homeless and was placed at the top of the list.
Prior to that, his charitable contributions have been in millions. In 2018, Bezos donated $10 million to With Honor, a PAC for electing military veterans. In the same year, he contributed $33 million to TheDream.us, a nonprofit which funds college scholarships for immigrants. The year before that, he donated $1 million to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, which was the largest personal contribution ever to the nonprofit. He also made a $1 million pledge to match donations to Mary's Place, a homeless nonprofit in Seattle in 2016, and donated $2.5 million to Washington United for Marriage, a same-sex marriage advocacy group in 2012. He was also quite charitable in 2011, contributing $15 million to Princeton University's Neuroscience Institute, where both he and his ex-wife graduated from and gifting $10 million to the Museum of History & Industry, Seattle.