Bezos and his estranged wife MacKenzie recently pledged $2 billion to a new charitable initiative, however their previous giving has amounted to a total of just over $145 million – less than 1% of their net worth.
“The record of both Amazon and Jeff Bezos reveals that they are takers, not givers,” said Queens City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, whose district includes Long Island City, where Amazon plans to set up a corporate HQ. “When they make promises of how generous they will be, I look at what they have done in the past to know what the truth really is.”
Bezos has been giving donations mostly to the Bezos Family Foundation, a charity that was started by his parents in Washington state in September 2000, according to state incorporation filings. Yet between 2000 and 2017, Bezos contributed just under $6 million – a small amount compared to his parents, Jacklyn and Miguel Bezos, who contributed $30,266,250 in stock to their charity in 2017, according to tax filings for the group reviewed by The New York Post.
Compared to other billionaires, Bezos is less of a philanthropist than other major donors, who signed on to billionaire investor Warren Buffett’s 2006 challenge to give half their fortune to philanthropy.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates remains the most generous philanthropist in the US, giving out $35.8 billion — more than one-third of his current $96,3 billion net worth – to health, education and relief projects through his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation since 2000. Former New York Mayor Bloomberg, who is worth an estimated $47.1 billion, pledged $1.8 billion to Johns Hopkins University, to be used exclusively for financial aid. He also donated a total of more than $6 billion to charitable causes, which is nearly 13 percent of his net worth.
However, last year was a notable shift for Bezos as a financial donor, the New York Post reported. He asked his 700,000 Twitter followers for suggestions on the direction his philanthropy should take, and he recently gave $33 million to finance scholarships for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children and $10 million to With Honor, a political action committee that helps veterans enter politics. He also announced last September the creation of the Bezos Day One Fund, an initiative to battle homelessness and support early childhood education, which has already given away $97.5 million to homeless charities across the country.