For the first time, Jeff Bezos, 2nd richest man in the world, announces that he will donate most of his fortune, currently estimated at around 125 billion dollars, during his lifetime. The billionaire thus responds to his criticisms, in particular after his refusal to sign the petition Giving Away launched by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet – which aims to encourage billionaires to reinject their money into charities.
The boss of Amazon was actually responding to a CNN reporter who asked him if he too had planned to give away part of his fortune. The contractor specifies that he is in the process of “build the capacity to be able to make donations with this money” with his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez. Its priorities for now are to fund initiatives against climate change as well as initiatives capable of uniting humanity.
Jeff Bezos says he will part with most of his fortune
In fact, the entrepreneur has already begun to engage in charity. A few weeks before COP27, he announces that the Bezos Earth Fund will be endowed with an additional $1 billion by 2030 – the aim of the initiative is to help protect carbon sinks and biodiversity. A sum that is added to the 2.4 billion dollars already invested by the entrepreneur in the climate cause.
Despite the impressive size of the ad, Jeff Bezos is far from the first to pledge most of his fortune to charity. Among the first to have understood the interest of this practice we can mention Warren Buffet, or Bill Gates (Microsoft) through the foundation Bill & Melinda Gates.
The first gave more than 46.1 billion dollars, while the foundation Bill & Melinda French Gates has donated more than $33.4 billion to date. But we can also cite other major donors, such as George Soros, Michael Bloomberg – who have all to date given significantly more money to works than Jeff Bezos.
As this fascinating article by our colleagues from the Guardian points out, more than taxes (the big billionaires do not necessarily pay a lot, being fundamentally shareholders…) behind philanthropy can hide a more or less direct desire for power. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, for example, has more than doubled global funding for malaria and polio research, saving millions of lives.
But on the other hand, in detail, on the ground, the donors set their agenda. Thus, for example, the foundation of the ex-boss of Microsoft has given priority in the USA to the size of school classes rather than other priorities defended by the local fabric of associations.
In other cases, as with George Soros, the influence is more indirect, but it is there: the financier has, on many occasions, influenced laws, in the United States as in other countries thanks to philanthropy. For the moment it is difficult to say which agenda will really defend Jeff Bezos in his philanthropic action – although it is hoped that with such sums, his investments against climate change will have a real effect.