The second richest man in the world has focused on the conquest of space but also on causes that are close to his heart.
In July 2021 the billionaire may have dominated media coverage for his flight into space, accompanied by his brother. But overall he’s been eclipsed by his ex-wife, Mackenzie Scott, who rewrote the rules and standards of philanthropy.
Indeed Scott, who recently divorced her second husband, has distributed more than $12 billion of her personal fortune during the past three years without going through a foundation.
Nor does she demand accountability from the associations and nonprofits — helping children, women, minorities and refugees and enabling rural areas to access health care — to which she donates.
Scott has drawn media coverage, even as she speaks only through posts on Medium.com. In those she details why she chooses to donate so much of her fortune.
“I asked a team of advisors to help me accelerate my 2020 giving through immediate support to people suffering the economic effects of the crisis,” Scott wrote in December 2020.
“The result over the last four months has been $4,158,500,000 in gifts to 384 organizations across all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington D.C. Some are filling basic needs: food banks, emergency relief funds, and support services for those most vulnerable.”
In 2019, after 25 years of marriage, Scott and Bezos announced an amicable divorce, marked by the transfer of 4% of the Seattle tech and e-commerce giant to Scott.
A Donation of $711 Million
Bezos is also involved in charitable giving. The billionaire, who has set up a fund, is involved in several causes.
And he and his parents have just made a huge donation — about $711 million — to accelerate research against cancer and infectious diseases.
The donation was made to the Seattle-based Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, known as Fred Hutch, and will span the next decade.
This donation is the largest ever received by the center, which was established by the Seattle surgeon Bill Hutchinson in memory of his brother, Fred, a Major League Baseball player who died of cancer at 45 in 1964.
But in recent years it is also one of the largest donations given to a single organization at one time.
“The landmark gift from the Bezos family will fund multiple scientific priorities, including clinical trials support, new translational research capabilities and recruitment,” the center said in a news release.
It added that the gift will “dramatically accelerate the pace and breadth of medical breakthroughs in cancer and infectious disease by tapping the full potential of today’s science.”
To achieve its goals, Fred Hutch says it needs $3 billion and therefore hopes that the Bezoses’ donation will encourage others to donate. The center “believes this gift will inspire additional donor support.”
“Science, particularly cancer and virus research, is at such a pivotal point right now,” Mike Bezos, Jeff’s father, said. “We hope our investment in the Hutch leads to answers for the most pressing medical questions. We also hope this inspires others to join us now in pursuing scientific and medical breakthroughs.”
Jeff Bezos for his part indicated that he was convinced that the funds would be of great use to Fred Hutch.
“The Hutch is going to do incredible things with this,” the world’s second richest man said on Twitter.
Bezos’s fortune was estimated at $136 billion as of Oct. 12, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Fred Hutch detailed the list of investments that the research center intends to make with the Bezos donation. For example, the center will devote $300 million to recruiting researchers, $225 million to build a new research site in Seattle, and other funds to expand clinical trials and the research center devoted to immunotherapy.
“This landmark gift is so important. It will directly accelerate our ability to make breakthroughs because the gift strategically targets growing our research pipeline, increasing collaboration, expanding clinical trials and investing in research infrastructure,” said Dr. Thomas J. Lynch, president and director of Fred Hutch.
This isn’t the first time the Bezoses have donated to Fred Hutch. Since 2009, their previous donations to the center totaled $68 million.
According to the center, their previous donations have helped advance CAR T-cell therapy, which uses immune cells to fight cancer.
Since 2016 one of the jewels of the Fred Hutch Center has been named for the Bezoses: the Bezos Family Immunotherapy Clinic