Author: Callum Glennen
16 Jun 2017
Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is giving Twitter users the chance to help decide where to focus his charitable efforts. The world’s second richest person – according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index – has made a public plea for philanthropic ideas on Twitter. The move is unusually public for Bezos, who has been relatively quiet about his charitable endeavours in the past.
In a tweet posted on June 15, Bezos said he is keen to hear ideas for philanthropic endeavours that focus on providing short-term benefits. Bezos’ message explained while he already leads a number of long-term projects, such as Blue Origin, Amazon and The Washington Post, he was currently looking for ideas that would yield swifter results. Bezos cited Mary’s Place, a homeless shelter for families that has previously partnered with Amazon, as a prime example.
Request for ideas… pic.twitter.com/j6D68mhseL
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) 15 June 2017
Until now, Bezos’ philanthropic endeavours have remained relatively low-key. As reported by The Verge, Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie Bezos, have donated tens of millions to scientific research. The pair has had little involvement in the Bezos Family Foundation, however, with Bezos’ parents responsible for setting up and running the education-based charity. With this tweet, Bezos has indicated he may now take a far more public approach to charity.
Bezos’ decision to crowdsource ideas for short-term philanthropy is also unusual among billionaires, who typically favour long-term projects. The current richest person in the world, Bill Gates, set up the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to focus on healthcare, and reduce extreme poverty worldwide. Gates, with the backing of Warren Buffet, also established The Giving Pledge in 2010, which offers the world’s wealthiest the chance to commit the majority of their fortune to charity. Signees include Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, who launched a foundation in 2015 that would see the couple gradually give away 99 percent of their net worth in an attempt to “cure, prevent and manage” all disease. Bezos’ tweet suggests a very different approach to his peers, with a far smaller, narrower focus.