Sustainability Climate Change

Bezos says he’ll donate most of his fortune to charity

It is the first time the billionaire has said he plans to give away the majority of his fortune.
Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos speaks during a news conference in 2019, where he announced the Climate Pledge, setting a goal to meet the Paris Agreement 10 years early. The Associated Press/ Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Story at a glance

  • The move comes after the Amazon founder received criticism for not signing onto the Giving Pledge. 

  • Although he did not provide specific details, the funds will go toward efforts to combat climate change and support humanity’s unification, Bezos said. 

  • The billionaire is also the owner of The Washington Post and space tourism company, Blue Origin. 

Jeff Bezos, the billionaire founder of Amazon, plans to give away the majority of his fortune to charities focused on fighting climate change and supporting those working to unify humanity, according to a new interview with CNN

Bezos’ net worth is around $124 billion, making him the fourth wealthiest person in the world. He currently serves as the executive chair of Amazon after stepping down as CEO in 2021.

In 1994, Bezos launched out of his garage in Seattle. Once an e-commerce website whose main mission was to sell books, the company has grown into a global commercial empire.

Bezos’ announcement marks the first time the billionaire said he plans to give away most of his money, although he did not disclose which specific charities he intends to support. Critics had previously called out Bezos for not signing onto the Giving Pledge, which calls on wealthy individuals to donate at least half of their fortune.  

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The billionaire has not stated a total target sum he plans to give away in his lifetime, although he will give about 8 percent of his net worth, or $10 billion dollars, to the Bezos Earth Fund over 10 years. The Fund’s priorities include advancing technologies to monitor carbon emissions and reduce the carbon footprint of cement and steel used in construction. 

The fund was created in 2020 following backlash from the public about billionaires’ setting their sights on space exploration rather than solving problems on earth. Amazon has also received criticism in the past over the carbon emissions from its own sprawling supply chain and delivery networks.

The company is one of more than 300 that has pledged to reduce their carbon footprint by 2040, in line with the Paris Climate Agreement. 

Bezos also owns The Washington Post and Blue Origin, a space tourism company. 

In the interview with CNN, Bezos appeared alongside his partner Lauren Sánchez.

“The hard part is figuring out how to do it in a levered way,” Bezos said of the donation effort. 

“It’s not easy. Building Amazon was not easy. It took a lot of hard work, a bunch of very smart teammates, hard-working teammates, and I’m finding — and I think Lauren is finding the same thing — that charity, philanthropy, is very similar.”

Bezos said they were in the process of “building the capacity to be able to give away this money.”

Over the weekend, Bezos announced Dolly Parton would be the recipient of the $100 million Bezos Courage & Civility Award, which aims to recognize leaders who “pursue solutions with courage and civility.” Parton can donate the money to any charity and in the past has worked to improve child literacy and boost the development of COVID-19 vaccines. 

Previous awards went to chef Jose Andrés and climate activist Van Jones.

Bezos’ ex-wife, MacKenzie Scott, made headlines last month after she donated $84.5 million to the Girl Scouts of the USA. In the past year, Scott gave away nearly $4 billion of her fortune to more than 450 organizations