Billionaire Jeff Bezos called out for 'stingy' Australian bushfire donation

Marissa DeSantis

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos (aka the richest person in the world) announced his company would donate $690,000 to support bushfire relief efforts in Australia - and the Internet is not impressed.

Bezos, whose net worth is just over $117 billion according to Forbes, took to Instagram over the weekend to pledge Amazon’s donation, which amounts to $1 million Australian dollars.

“Our hearts go out to all Australians as they cope with these devastating bushfires,” Bezos wrote in his Instagram caption about the disaster that has reportedly killed 28 people, burned more than 17.5 million acres of land and displaced or killed an estimated half-billion animals.

At first glance, $690,000 seems like a pretty respectable sum, and as some Twitter users pointed out, any donation helps.

Others noted that this money is specified to be from Amazon the company and that Bezos himself could be giving more (although he hasn’t announced further donations).

But many pointed out that Bezos hardly donated anything at all when you take into account his net worth.

They also shared that he's spent considerably more money on less important investments.

Before the bushfires, Bezos (who was given a philanthropy score of two out of five by Forbes) received criticism for not signing the Giving Pledge. Aimed at addressing society’s most pressing issues, the Giving Pledge was set up by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet, and it encourages billionaires to publicly commit to giving the majority of their wealth to philanthropy.

Over 200 of the world’s wealthiest people have currently signed the pledge, including the five richest Americans and Bezos’ ex-wife, MacKenzie Bezos.

(AFP/Getty Images)

Jeff Bezos, who did pledge $2 billion to his Bezos Day One Fund to help homeless families, has also been called out for Amazon’s taxes - or lack thereof.

In 2019, it was reported that the company valued at $800 billion paid $0 in federal taxes, and even received a refund of $129 million. (The company did reportedly file $756 million in state and international taxes). And naturally, Twitter weighed in on that, too.

Here’s what other celebrities are doing to help Australia

Forbes’ youngest self-made billionaire Kylie Jenner donated $1 million (following a controversial social media post). Singer Elton John also pledged $1 million, while actor Leonardo DiCaprio announced that his environmental organization Earth Alliance would donate $3 million to help relief efforts.

Other donations have come from Australian natives (and are presumably in AU dollars), including actor Chris Hemsworth and his family ($1 million), Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban ($500,000), singer Kylie Minogue ($500,000) and actor Russell Crowe ($105,000)

American singer Pink also donated $500,000, and heavy metal band Metallica pledged $750,000 to Australian organizations aiding in relief efforts.

Singer Lizzo volunteered at Foodbank Victoria to directly give a helping hand while she was touring in Australia.

How you can help

Whether publicly announcing donations or not, many celebrities used their platform to direct followers to organizations in Australia that could use additional support.

Among them are the Australian Red Cross, fire departments like those in Victoria and New South Wales (which are states that were hit particularly hard) and wildlife organizations like WIRES Wildlife Rescue (the largest wildlife rescue organization in Australia), Animals Australia and Wildlife Victoria.