America’s ultra-rich stepped up their donations to charities in 2020 as unprecedented challenges prompted them to give in new ways and inspired newcomers to join the ranks of the best philanthropists. 2019, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s Philanthropy 50 ranking released Tuesday.
The list features business and technology leaders who have long been known for their donations, such as Mike Bloomberg and Bill and Melinda Gates, as well as new faces such as MacKenzie Scott, ex-wife of Amazon AMZN, + 0.48% CEO Jeff Bezos; Twitter TWTR, + 4.87% CEO Jack Dorsey; The great Michael Jordan of the NBA; and Airbnb ABNB, co-founder of -1.92% Joseph Gebbia Jr. These billionaire donors, many of whom saw their personal wealth skyrocket as Americans’ finances were threatened, invested dollars to tackle the coronavirus pandemic , its economic impact and race Justice, among other causes. Who is on the list of America’s top donors? The people who gave the most money to charity in 2020, according to the Chronicle’s Philanthropy 50, were: No. 1: Jeff Bezos The founder of Amazon, who just announced that he will leave office to focus on his philanthropy and other projects, will allocate $ 10 billion to the Bezos Earth Fund, a climate change initiative. The fund provided $ 791 million in grants. No. 2: MacKenzie Scott The novelist has been on a giving spree since her divorce from Bezos, announcing in July that she had given away about $ 1.7 billion in the year after the split. In December, it revealed that it had distributed more than $ 4 billion over four months to 384 groups in the US, including local YMCAs and several historically black colleges and universities. No. 3: Mike Bloomberg The founder of financial technology and media company Bloomberg LP, former mayor of New York and a former aspiring president, has appeared on the Philanthropy 50 list 16 times. He supported a variety of causes in 2020, including public health, basic human services, and $ 100 million to provide scholarships to four historically black medical schools. 4: Phil and Penelope Knight Nike NKE co-founder -0.99% and his wife donated $ 465 million to their alma mater, the University of Oregon, in support of scientific research and other areas of study. They also donated $ 900.7 million to their private foundation, part of which was distributed to community groups in Oregon that provided help for the pandemic. 5: Jack Dorsey The CEO of Twitter and Square SQ, + 2.56% announced in April that he was putting $ 1 billion in Square stock in a charitable LLC which then distributed nearly $ 330.5 million in grants. The money went to groups “working to help people whose lives have been affected by the pandemic and to groups trying to fix the underlying systems that have made the multiple crises of 2020 that much more difficult for people of color and low-income people, “according to the Chronicle. What causes did top philanthropists support in 2020? People with ultra-high net worth tend to favor giving gifts to universities, colleges, and medical and scientific research. That trend continued into 2020, but big donors also focused on meeting basic needs by donating large sums of money to organizations fighting hunger, homelessness and debt relief, said Maria Di Mento of the Chronicle of Philanthropy. , who compiled the list. “That was something we had never seen before,” Di Mento said. “I’ve been making this list for 16 years and I’ve never seen such organizations get these kinds of gifts.” Examples include Bezos’ $ 100 million donation to the COVID-19 response fund at Feeding America, a national network of food banks. Gebbia made the Philanthropy 50 list for the first time with $ 27 million going to the homeless in San Francisco. Charles Schwab, founder of SCHW retail brokerage firm, + 4.04% named after him, and his wife, Helen, also debuted on the list with a $ 65 million donation to address homelessness in San Francisco. “It’s a huge amount,” Di Mento said of Schwab’s donation. “These organizations that work on these problems do not receive that amount of money. I was very pleased to see that happen. “Racial justice causes also attracted significant donations. Real estate mogul and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross invested $ 13 million to address racial inequality with his own nonprofit. , and Jordan pledged $ 50 million to racial justice groups like the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Education Fund. The donors were “a small part of the billionaire class,” noted the Chronicle. “Only 23 of the people in Forbes 400 gave enough to qualify for the list. “Missed out on Philanthropy 50 was Tesla TSLA, + 0.55% founder Elon Musk, who dethroned Bezos as the world’s richest person in early 2021. Musk has been criticized for dedicate a relatively small amount of their fortune to the public good (Tesla did not immediately respond to a MarketWatch request for comment on this criticism.) In January, Musk asked for suggestions on “ways to donate money that really make a difference,” noting, as other billionaires before him have, that giving money is “harder than it sounds.” It recently announced a $ 100 million pledge to fund an award for the best carbon capture technology. A big warning for any list of philanthropists: donors sometimes donate anonymously, and some use donation vehicles like LLCs that are not required to disclose their expenses, so tracking donations can sometimes be impossible.