The richest people in the world are urged to urgently donate large chunks of their fortunes to the global effort to tackle the coronavirus pandemic and help millions of people around the world whose lives have been in crisis by Covid-19.
Some billionaires – including Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey – have pledged huge sums of money to finance solutions to the ongoing crisis.
But other members of the wealthy elite have been criticized for promising only small fractions – if any – of their fortunes to tackle the worst global health emergency, which is set to trigger an economic crisis on the Great Depression scale of the 1930s.
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and the richest person in the world, donated $ 100 million (£ 80 million) to the Food Feeding America charity bank. The charity, which runs a network of around 200 food banks, said that Bezos’ donation was the largest he ever received and that “countless lives will be changed because of his generosity.”
However, critics pointed out that the $ 100 million donation made public by Bezos represents less than 0.1% of its estimated $ 123 billion fortune.
Amazon is also investing $ 25 million in an “Amazon Assistance Fund” to support delivery drivers and “seasonal workers in financial distress”.
Fran Perrin, daughter of the heir of the supermarket and philanthropist Lord Sainsbury, said that now is the time for billionaires like Bezos to start “giving back to society in the greatest possible way”.
“Because you wouldn’t want to give more,” said Perrin of other very wealthy people. “I think people who can do it should give their best. I think it is perfectly reasonable. “
Perrin, who pledged to donate all the Sainsbury fortune he inherited, promised £ 2.5 million in emergency funding this week to help people struggle with the economic consequences of the blockade. The extra money was provided through his Indigo Trust charity, to which he had already donated £ 10 million.
“We are currently in a national emergency that charities and wealthy people must immediately respond and do their part,” said Perrin. “There is a huge, huge need for funds to support people and demand will only grow. It is a perfect storm. “
Luke Hildyard, who campaigns against excessive pay for executives at the High Pay Center, said that all donations should be welcome, but added: “Very generous individual grants can obscure the fact that, overall, charitable donations from the wealthy are fairly minimal. Indeed, studies show that the poor donate more than the rich, in proportion to their income. “
Perrin said he would like to tell reluctant billionaires that helping solve the world’s problems could be “the most rewarding challenge you’ve ever faced.”
His message, he said, would have been: “You have a skillset that made all this money. Now imagine what you could do if you transformed those skills to solve the world’s problems. This may be the biggest contribution you can make to the world. Give yourself the gift of knowing that you’ve done everything you can. “
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation he immediately pledged $ 100 million for the detection, isolation and development of vaccines. Gates said he is ready to spend billions on the long term to develop and produce a vaccine. “It will be a few billion dollars that we will waste in manufacturing for constructs that are not chosen because something else is better,” said Gates on The Daily Show. “But a few billion in this, the situation we are in, where there are trillions of dollars … lost economically, it’s worth it.”
Jack Dorsey has pledged to donate $ 1 billion (£ 800 million) to fund coronavirus research to help “disarm this pandemic.” Dorsey, who co-founded Twitter in 2006 and went on to found the Square payment company, is donating $ 1 billion of Square shares to a charity, called Start Small, to “finance Covid-19 global aid.” He said the donation was around “28% of my wealth”.
Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, has set aside $ 30 million for the Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust joint research project, Covid-19 Therapeutics Accelerator. Zuckerberg has an estimated fortune of $ 67 billion.
Jack MaChina’s wealthiest person promised 100 million yuan ($ 14.5 million) to “support the development of a coronavirus vaccine.” But it has an estimated fortune of $ 44 billion.
Hans Rausing, grandson of the Swedish founder of Tetra Pak, donated £ 16.5 million to charities and other groups in support of the NHS.
George Soros, a former multibillionaire manager and philanthropist of hedge funds, has promised € 2 million to support “an unprecedented emergency” in Milan and its native Hungary. “I was born in Budapest, in the midst of the Great Depression,” Soros said in a statement. “I experienced the Second World War, the rule of the arrow cross and the siege of the city. I remember what it’s like to live in extreme circumstances. “
Madonna donated $ 1 million to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help create a vaccine.
George is Amal Clooney they promised $ 1 million (£ 803,000) to six coronavirus causes including the NHS, Lombardy relief charities and Lebanese food banks.