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Amazon’s Jeff Bezos Unveils His New Philanthropic Fund

Last year, Jeff Bezos took to Twitter to ask his followers for ideas for a philanthropic fund. Millions of his fans replied with different ideas, foundations, or movements to support.

Bezos then thanked everyone for sharing their incredible ideas and said he would check them out to determine which philanthropic movement to fund or support on.

A year later, the Amazon CEO finally unveiled his latest philanthropic fund. However, it still left many unanswered questions for his fans.

The Day One Fund

Last Thursday, Jeff Bezos shared more details about his latest philanthropic efforts named the Day One Fund. The said funding will help thousands of homeless families and will also create preschool centers for kids. While the said announcement was deemed as a good start, the philanthropic experts claim the announcement still left many unanswered questions.

Before the said philanthropic efforts, Bezos was criticized for not sharing his fortune or not having any philanthropic efforts.

Also, these questions need to be addressed as soon as possible as the current world’s richest man puts his plan of giving back into motion. According to Foundation Center’s director Janet Camarena, the announcement didn’t give out any details about the priorities of the said funding.

The investors, fans, and followers are left waiting to hear the next chapter on how his philanthropic funds will grow. Camarena also shares some of the most pressing questions most of Bezos’ fans and followers ask about Bezos’ new funds.

The Fund’s Structure

One of the biggest questions about Bezos’ new funding is the organization’s structure. According to Camerana, the regulatory and transparency standards of a philanthropic fund depend on how it’s structured.

For example, if Bezos plans to build a private foundation, he may be required to spend 5% of the fund’s value each year. While having an LLC structure will give Bezos more flexibility.

Once Bezos determines the structure, he can then hire a leadership team to manage and run his initiative, put some oversight measures like drafting the guidelines for a grant-making process to make his fund transparent to the public and earn their trust. Through this effective collaboration, only then Bezos can succeed in his fund.

The Fund’s Money

Since we still didn’t know the fund’s structure, it remains unclear where the $2 billion funding will come from, nor if it’s enough to fund his philanthropic efforts. Many assume the money would come straight from Bezos’ pocket. However, he may be eligible for steep tax deductions if he does. About 30% of his gift will also be eligible for deductibles if he establishes a private foundation, or around 50% if he establishes a donor-advised fund.

Aside from that, his followers are left wondering why Bezos only allocated a smaller amount of funds compared to the other rich men in the tech industry like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.

Bezos also didn’t join Giving Pledge, a popular campaign set by some of the world’s billionaires to give away a majority of their wealth in their philanthropic efforts.

However, Bezos clarified in his interview that his $2 billion commitment was just the start. He promised to add more as their initiative grows.

According to philanthropic studies professor Leslie Lenkowsky at the University of Indiana, the Amazon’s idea of starting small before expanding is not uncommon for wealthy individuals who want to test the waters first.

Lenkowsky adds there’s nothing wrong with Bezos’ strategy, also known as the “acorns to oaks” approach. According to him, Bezos wants to see first if the initiative becomes successful before expanding it.

Why Did He Target the Homelessness and Preschool?

According to Camarena, it would be interesting to know how the Amazon CEO ended up choosing preschool education and homelessness to be the center of his fund priorities.

While Bezos has been supporting and advocating actively on early childhood education, he didn’t show any interest in solving the homelessness issue until now. It’s also interesting to see how Bezos focuses more on solving near-term issues compared to his competitor’s more ambitious projects like AI, curing cancer, etc.

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