MacKenzie Bezos promises to give away half her fortune, highlighting Jeff Bezos’ absence from ‘Giving Pledge’

MacKenzie Bezos will donate more than half of her fortune to charity. (Photo via Bystander Revolution)

One of the richest women in the world will give the majority of her fortune away to charity.

MacKenzie Bezos has signed The Giving Pledge, a commitment that hundreds of wealthy people have made to donate more than half of their money to philanthropic causes. Her announcement Tuesday throws the lack of such a pledge from her ex-husband, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, into sharp relief.

“My approach to philanthropy will continue to be thoughtful,” Bezos said in her Giving Pledge announcement. “It will take time and effort and care. But I won’t wait. And I will keep at it until the safe is empty.”

In 2010, Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett created the Giving Pledge to encourage the world’s wealthiest individuals to put their fortunes toward philanthropic causes. More than 200 people from around the world have signed the agreement.

Earlier this year, Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos divorced in a split that instantly rendered her among the wealthiest women alive.

Under their agreement, Jeff Bezos received 75 percent of the couple’s Amazon shares and retained voting authority for the remaining shares owned by MacKenzie Bezos. He also retained full ownership of The Washington Post and Blue Origin. Bezos is still the largest Amazon shareholder and wealthiest man in the world.

Despite his position, Bezos has not signed the Giving Pledge as many of his billionaire peers have. Bezos has faced criticism in the past for tepid philanthropic action despite his massive wealth. The entrepreneur has instead focused his extracurricular spending on initiatives like Blue Origin, the rocket venture whose mission is to make space travel less expensive and difficult. This work is mission-driven for Bezos, who believes space colonization is necessary to preserve the ecosystems of our planets.

But Bezos has expanded his philanthropic work in recent years. In 2018, he launched a $2 billion initiative called the Day 1 Fund. The program will provide grants for homeless service providers and launch a network of preschools in low-income communities.

Bezos celebrated his ex-wife’s Giving Pledge announcement in a tweet Tuesday.

“We each come by the gifts we have to offer by an infinite series of influences and lucky breaks we can never fully understand,” MacKenzie Bezos wrote in her announcement. “In addition to whatever assets life has nurtured in me, I have a disproportionate amount of money to share.”