Jeff Bezos plans to give away most of his $124 billion fortune during his lifetime, he told CNN in an exclusive interview Monday. This is the first time the Amazon founder has committed to doing so.
The billionaire, who is the world’s fourth-richest person, according to Bloomberg, said that he and girlfriend Lauren Sanchez are preparing “to be able to give away this money.”
However, he hasn’t figured out the best way to do so, as he wanted to maximize the impact of his donations.
“The hard part is figuring out how to do it in a levered way,” he told CNN. “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. And there are a bunch of ways that you could do ineffective things.”
Previously, Bezos pledged to give $10 billion to fight climate change as part of an initiative called the Bezos Earth Fund. He said that unity is a trait that’s necessary to mitigate the effects of climate change, as he criticized politicians and social media for doing the opposite and encouraging divisions. He said that he intends for his billions to go towards people who he considers “unifiers.”
He also donated $2 billion to help unhoused families and start preschools. On Saturday, the couple announced a $100 million grant for singer and philanthropist Dolly Parton to use for her various charitable causes, as part of an annual gift, the Bezos Award for Courage and Civility.
Bezos has also made several nine-figure donations to institutions like the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum.
“I just feel honored to be able to be a part of what they’re doing for this world,” Bezos told CNN.
Bezos was previously criticized for not signing the Giving Pledge, a commitment by many of the nation’s wealthiest people to give away at least half their fortunes, started in 2010 by Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett and others. Bezos’ ex-wife, author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott signed the pledge in 2019 after their divorce.