The now ex-CEO of Amazon- Jeff Bezos has now topped the US Charity Donors list for the year 2020 by Chronicle of Philanthropy’s annual rankings of the 50 Americans who gave the most to charity last year, amidst the pandemic and its damages.
A ranking awarded to 50 philanthropists who gave away multimillion-dollar gifts on food pantries, historically Black colleges and universities, climate causes, and organizations that serve the poor and the homeless last year, Bezos topped the list by donating $10 billion to launch the Bezos Earth Fund. Bezos, who last week announced he was stepping down as Amazon CEO to devote more time to philanthropy and other projects, also contributed $100 million to Feeding America, the organization that supplies more than 200 food banks.
Following Bezos on the Number 2 rank was Bezos’s ex-wife, MacKenzie Scott, who gave $5.7 billion in 2020 by asking community leaders to help identify 512 organizations for seven- and eight-figure gifts, including food banks, human-service organizations, and racial-justice charities.
Among others were Charles Schwab and his wife, Helen (No. 24), who gave $65 million to address homelessness in San Francisco. Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings and his wife, Patty Quillin (No. 14), gave $120 million for financial aid for students at historically Black colleges and universities. Michael Jordan, the basketball great (No. 31), pledged $50 million to racial and social-justice groups.
Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of Twitter, ranked No. 5, put $1.1 billion into a fund that by year’s end had distributed at least $330 million to more than 100 nonprofits. The No. 3 donor was Michael Bloomberg, who contributed $1.6 billion to arts, education, public health, and many other causes. Nike founder Phil and Penelope Knight were next on Number 4, donating $1.4 billion, $900.7 million of it to their Knight Foundation.
In all, the 50 biggest donors contributed $24.7 billion in 2020, compared with $15.8 billion in 2019. Surprisingly though, many of the multimillion-dollar donations came from people far less wealthy, like Gordon Rausser, a former dean of natural resources at the University of California at Berkeley.