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These Three Billionaires Are America’s Top Charitable Donors by Dollar Value

Rachel Curry - Author
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Nov. 30 2021, Published 11:35 a.m. ET

It's easy to forget about charity amid hyper-consumerist events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. That's why Henry Timms of New York City's 92nd Street Y started GivingTuesday in 2012. "Everyone has something to give and every act of generosity counts," the organization says.

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As for who donates the most money in the U.S., that delegation is reserved for a trio of billionaires. Here are the top charitable donors in America.

Interesting facts about U.S. charity

According to the National Philanthropic Trust, Americans donated $471.44 billion in 2020, a 5.1 percent boost from the year prior. That increase stemmed from individuals, who contributed 69 percent of total donations. During the same time, corporations reduced their donations by a collective $16.88 billion, or 6.1 percent. Due to the market's correspondence with perceived economic security, corporations are more likely to donate when the stock market is bullish,

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Jeff Bezos donated the most money to charity last year

Jeff Bezos donated $10.2 billion in 2020, making him the most charitable U.S. person by dollar value. The Amazon and Blue Origin founder is worth a total of $201.6 billion, meaning his donations are equivalent to about five percent of his overall wealth.

The vast majority of that total went to climate change, with Bezos committing $10 billion during that year to a climate-focused organization. It was the largest single charitable donation of the year.

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In Nov. 2021, Bezos donated $500,000 at the Baby2Baby gala, and people around him reportedly joked (or didn't joke) that he should have donated at least a million dollars. Regardless, he produced the highest donation of the night. Year-to-date, his donations have been much lower than in the previous year, amounting to $1.5 billion.

MacKenzie Scott, a giving machine, comes in second on list of top U.S. donors

Bezos's ex-wife MacKenzie Scott committed to donating the majority of her near-$60 billion net worth over time. In 2020, she donated $5.7 billion to charity, making her the top donor for 90 percent of charitable organizations in a Bloomberg survey.

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Scott's individual donations ranged from $750,000 to $60 million. She has increased her rate of donations in 2021, giving a total of $8.6 billion in the 12 months that ended in June. Unlike other billionaires, who tend to donate through foundations (such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, for example), Scott donates directly to charitable groups and lets them decide how the funds get used.

One area of focus for Scott is historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). She has donated money to schools such as Indian River State College, Xavier University, Tuskegee University, and Hampton University.

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Michael Bloomberg is the third-biggest U.S. charitable donor

Former mayor of New York City and co-founder of Bloomberg, Michael Bloomberg is worth $70 billion. The data tells us he donated $1.6 billion in 2020, making him the third-largest charitable donor in the U.S.

For The Giving Pledge, Bloomberg wrote, "If you want to fully enjoy life—give. And if you want to do something for your children and show how much you love them, the single best thing—by far—is to support organizations that will create a better world for them and their children."

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