How COVID-19 Is Steering Philanthropy in 2020

Industry leaders and Fortune 500 founders are charting a new path in philanthropy by donating funds directly to the people and businesses that need help the most. Aside from supporting financially vulnerable individuals, donors are focusing their charitable efforts on public health. Resources for hospitals and healthcare workers account for many of these contributions, but a growing number of philanthropists are tackling the pandemic head-on by funding COVID-19 vaccine research. Here’s our roundup of donations from some of the wealthiest individuals in America.

Jeff Bezos
Founder and CEO, Amazon

Apart from the $100M Bezos gave to Feeding America, the tech entrepreneur donated $25M to create the Amazon Relief Fund for employees and independent contractors. Seasonal employees and delivery drivers who have contracted COVID-19 or are facing financial hardships can apply for personal grants of up to $5,000.

Leon Black
Co-founder, Chairman, and CEO, Apollo Global Management; Co-founder, Melanoma Research Alliance

Debra Black
Co-founder and Chair of the Board, Melanoma Research Alliance

The Debra and Leon Black Family Foundation committed $20M to launch the NYC Healthcare Heroes program, along with food services provider Aramark, the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, poverty-relief nonprofit Robin Hood, and the American Red Cross. The program expects to supply up to half a million packages of shelf-stable food, personal care and household products, and over-the-counter drugs to hospital workers in New York City.

Michael Bloomberg
Founder and CEO, Bloomberg LP

Bloomberg Philanthropies pledged $40M in a global initiative to prevent and reduce the spread of COVID-19 in low- and middle-income countries in partnership with the World Health Organization and Vital Strategies.

Ray Dalio
Co-chief Investment Officer and Co-chairman, Bridgewater Associates

In February, Dalio Philanthropies and Bridgewater Associates pledged $10M to Peking University First Hospital, Union Hospital for Clinical Care, and several medical organizations in Wuhan to support first responders at the center of the outbreak. In May, Dalio Philanthropies donated $4M to provide child care services for hospital workers fighting the pandemic, as well as food and medical care for those in need in Connecticut.

Michael Dell
Founder, Chairman, and CEO, Dell Technologies; Co-founder, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation

Susan Dell
Co-founder and Chairman of the Board, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation

The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, which supports education, health and wellness, and poverty relief, has committed $100M to COVID-19 research and to sustaining the economy. The Dells pledged $20M to the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator launched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome, and Mastercard, and $80M to protect healthcare workers, nonprofits, schools, and social enterprises. Some funds will also be allotted for small business loans and guarantees.

Jack Dorsey
Co-founder and CEO, Twitter

Dorsey stated his intention to donate $1B of his equity in Square to COVID-19 relief and nonprofits around the world through his Start Small LLC. As of June 2, over $85M of those funds have been dispersed to dozens of nonprofits, including organizations dedicated to fighting domestic violence in Los Angeles, supporting New Orleans’ homeless population, and facilitating cash transfers to low-income families.

Bill and Melinda Gates
Co-founders, Co-chairs, and Trustees, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has committed $300M to the fight against COVID-19. This includes $50M to the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator; $50M to Gavi, a public-private global health alliance founded by the couple to develop a vaccine for COVID-19; and $25M to create and deliver diagnostics.

Phil Knight
Co-founder and Chairman Emeritus, Nike

Knight, along with his wife, Penny, and other senior leaders of the athletic apparel giant, donated $15M, which will go to the Oregon Food Bank, the Oregon Community Foundation Recovery Fund, Oregon Health & Science University, and several national and international efforts.

George Roberts and Henry Kravis
Co-chairmen and Co-CEOs, KKR & Co.

The billionaire private-equity duo established a $50M coronavirus relief fund for first responders and healthcare workers and to support workers and small businesses in hard-hit communities.

Reed Hastings
Co-founder, Chairman, and CEO, Netflix

Hastings and his wife, film producer Patty Quillin—who are members of The Giving Pledge—have donated $30M to Gavi, the vaccine alliance founded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Jeff Skoll
Founder and Chairman, Participant Media; Founder and Chairman, Skoll Foundation

After giving about $20M to nonprofits devoted to addressing COVID-19 concerns for low-income groups, the Skoll Foundation committed an additional $100M to COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, and medical equipment for low- and middle-income countries. Skoll, eBay’s first employee and former president, founded Participant Media in 2004 to create content that spurs social change.

Mark Zuckerberg
Co-founder and CEO, Facebook

Facebook launched a small business grants program to provide $100M in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in more than 30 countries.


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