MacKenzie Bezos has committed to giving away at least half her estimated $36 billion fortune to charity, joining more than 200 mega-donors intent on using their billions to “help address society’s most pressing problems” and promote a culture of philanthropy.
Bezos, a novelist and one of the original forces behind Amazon, announced that she has joined the Giving Pledge, a global initiative whose roster includes Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg, Michael Bloomberg and investor Robert F. Smith.
The move comes just months after she finalized her divorce from Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.
“We each come by the gifts we have to offer by an infinite series of influences and lucky breaks we can never fully understand. In addition to whatever assets life has nurtured in me, I have a disproportionate amount of money to share,” she wrote in a letter dated Tuesday.
“My approach to philanthropy will continue to be thoughtful. It will take time and effort and care. But I won’t wait. And I will keep at it until the safe is empty.”
MacKenzie Bezos, who has written two novels and is an American Book Award winner, didn’t specify how she would distribute the $18 billion earmarked through the Giving Pledge. Her philanthropy to date has focused on marriage equality, transitional housing for homeless families, and college scholarships for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as minors.
In 2013, she founded Bystander Revolution, an anti-bullying organization, for which she is the executive director.
She also worked at Amazon — where she was an accountant and negotiated contracts — in the early days, long before it grew into the $905 billion retail behemoth it is today. Unlike her former husband, MacKenzie Bezos has kept a relatively quiet profile and hasn’t had a public role in Amazon in years.