Jeff Bezos giving $10 billion to fight climate change in February was the single largest donation of 2020

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From the $10 billion fund donated by Jeff Bezos for climate change, about $790 million has been given out to at least 16 different organizations.

  • The $10 billion Jeff Bezos gave in February to launch the Bezos Earth Fund, an initiative that seeks to fight climate change, has been called the single-largest charitable gift of 2020 by The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
  • Each year, the Chronicle releases its annual list of the top-10 gifts publicly given by individuals or their foundations and donor-advised funds. For the year, the top 10 comes to more than $12.2 billion collectively.
  • He announced the $10 billion donation gift in February of last year via Instagram, where he called climate change the “biggest threat to our planet.” His announcement came before the World Health Organization deemed COVID-19 a pandemic in March. 
  • Out of the $10 billion, Bezos announced in November that $791 million has already been given out to at least 16 organizations.
  • Bezos is among the billionaires that have seen their net worth skyrocket amid the pandemic. His net worth currently stands at $186 billion, and he made over $70 billion last year, as reported by Insider’s Juliana Kaplan.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The $10 billion Jeff Bezos gave in February to launch the Bezos Earth Fund, an initiative seeking to combat climate change, has been deemed the single-largest charitable gift of 2020 by The Chronicle of Philanthropy

Bezos announced the multibillion-dollar gift and the creation of the Bezos Earth Fund on Instagram. His announcement came before the World Health Organization deemed COVID-19 a pandemic in March. Out of the $10 billion, Bezos announced in November that $791 million has already been given out to at least 16 organizations.

“Climate change is the biggest threat to our planet,” Bezos wrote in an Instagram caption in February. “I want to work alongside others both to amplify known ways and to explore new ways of fighting the devastating impact of climate change on this planet we all share.”

Amazon declined further comment, while Jeff Bezos did not respond to a request for comment from Insider. 

Bezos’ $10 billion announcement came after his ex-wife, MacKenzie Scott, had pledged to give away most of her wealth back in 2019. As Insider previously reported, Scott has since given away nearly $6 billion since her multibillion-dollar divorce from Bezos. 

Bezos’ net worth soared during the pandemic and amid the pandemic, in June, when his net worth was $143 billion, he gave $100 million to Feeding America and about $25 million to the relief effort All in WA, as reported by the Washington Post

In total, the Chronicle estimates the top 10 contributors gave more than $12.2 billion last year, including the $10 billion given by Bezos. 

While the donations number in the billions, they pale in comparison to the surge in wealth that the world’s richest saw last year amid the pandemic. As previously reported by Insider’s Juliana Kaplan, the net worth of the world’s richest grew nearly $1 trillion last year, including an increase of more than $70 billion for Bezos. 

He currently stands as the world’s richest man with a net worth of  $186 billion and has – unlike his ex-wife – yet to sign the Giving Pledge, where participants promise to give away more than half their wealth. 

When Bezos announced the $10 billion gift last February, his net worth was at around $130 billion  – meaning the $10 billion constituted about 7.7% of his net worth. Today, with a net worth of $186 billion, $10 billion is about 5.4% of his wealth.

None of the donations given by Scott, which included $40 million to the HBCU Morgan State University, were individually large enough to snag a spot on the Chronicle’s list.

Instead, topping the list was Bezos, followed by Nike cofounder Phil Knight and his wife Penny, who gave $900 million to their Knight Foundation and $300 million to the University of Oregon. 

Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, also were in the top 10 for donating to the Center of Tech and Civic Life, which uses technology to ensure safer and more reliable elections. Zuckerberg and Chan donated $300 million to the organization in September and then gave another $100 million in October before the 2020 Presidential Election. 

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