For a change, some good billionaire philanthropy news
- It seems to have been in response to the question "Do you plan to give away the majority of your wealth in your lifetime?"; I don't know whether he encouraged them to ask this
- I suspect this is not entirely 'news'; iirc he has made noises like this in the past
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos plans to give away the majority of his $124 billion net worth during his lifetime, telling CNN in an exclusive interview he will devote the bulk of his wealth to fighting climate change and supporting people who can unify humanity in the face of deep social and political divisions.
This seems potentially promising: he seems to prioritize effectiveness.
“The hard part is figuring out how to do it in a levered way,” he said, implying that even as he gives away his billions, he is still looking to maximize his return. “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.”
“There are a bunch of ways that I think you could do ineffective things, too,” he added. “So you have to think about it carefully and you have to have brilliant people on the team.”
Bezos’ methodical approach to giving stands in sharp contrast to that of his ex-wife, the philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, who recently gave away nearly $4 billion to 465 organizations in the span of less than a year.
In terms of specifics, the Earth Fund seems relatively good, to me:
Bezos has committed $10 billion over 10 years, or about 8% of his current net worth, to the Bezos Earth Fund, which Sánchez co-chairs. Among its priorities are reducing the carbon footprint of construction-grade cement and steel; pushing financial regulators to consider climate-related risks; advancing data and mapping technologies to monitor carbon emissions; and building natural, plant-based carbon sinks on a large scale.
I’m less enthusiastic about the “Bezos Courage and Civility Award” which seems celebrity-driven (as much as I love Dolly Parton) and perhaps less likely to target global priorities/effectiveness.