Power Players

Jeff Bezos gave away more money than Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg combined in 2018

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As everyone from Alexandra Ocasio Cortez to Warren Buffett is talking about the rich paying higher taxes, the Chronicle of Philanthropy's annual Philanthropy 50 list reveals how much money some of them are giving away.

The list ranks 50 of the country's biggest donors, and in 2018 the group gave $7.8 billion to charitable causes — which is much less than last year. In 2017, the Philanthropy 50 gave $14.7 billion, according to the Chronicle.

So who's on the list? Lots of well-known billionaires, but as the Chronicle points out, "some of America's biggest donors don't appear" because of the Chronicle's methodology, which doesn't include multiyear gift installments. Plus "not all philanthropists publicly disclose details about their giving," notes the Chronicle.

Jeff Bezos

No. 1 on the list for 2018 is a newcomer: Jeff Bezos. In the past, Bezos, who is the richest man in the world, has been criticized for his lack of philanthropic efforts. Last year, however, Bezos gave an estimated $2 billion thanks to the launch of his Bezos Day One Fund, which supports "existing non-profits that help homeless families," and is creating "a network of new, non-profit tier-one preschools in low-income communities," according to its site. Bezos, who is currently worth $136 billion according to Forbes, founded the fund with MacKenzie Bezos before they announced plans to divorce. She appears alongside Bezos on the list. A representative for Bezos declined to comment to CNBC Make It.

Michael Bloomberg

Michael Bloomberg, who has a net worth of $56 billion, takes the second spot on Philanthropy 50's ranking, giving $767 million to causes including the arts, education, environment, public-health groups and programs aimed at improving city governments worldwide. In 2017, he donated an estimated $702 million. A representative from Bloomberg Philanthropies also notes to CNBC Make It that Bloomberg's lifetime giving to date has climbed to over $6.4 billion.

Bill Gates

A number of notable billionaires slipped down the ranking in 2018.

Bill and Melinda Gates, who were No. 1 in 2017, fell to 12th place in 2018, giving away an estimated $138 million to their Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Last year they donated an estimated $4.78 billion.

Overall, though, the Gates have given a total of $45.5 billion through their foundation and other family foundations, dating back to 1994, the Chronicle of Philanthropy notes. And Gates created The Giving Pledge with billionaire buddy Warren Buffett, which invites billionaires to commit to giving away the majority of their money to charity. (Buffett gave the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation nearly $2.6 billion in Berkshire Hathaway stock in 2018, says the Chronicle, but he does not appear on the list because it was annual installment of a much larger pledge.)

A representative for Gates did not respond to CNBC Make It's request for comment by the time this story published.

Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan also fell from second place in 2017 (when they gave over $2 billion) to seventh place in 2018, when they gave nearly $214 million through the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Donor Advised Fund at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. However, a representative for Zuckerberg points out that this number does not reflect the couple's total giving for 2018. Since its founding, the initiative has given a total $1.8 billion.

In 2018, Facebook had a tumultuous year, and as a result, Zuckerberg took a financial hit. At the end of 2017, Zuckerberg was worth nearly $73 billion, according to Bloomberg's Billionaire Index, and about $53 billion at the end of 2018. He is currently worth $65 billion.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy's annual list is "based primarily on gifts and pledges of cash and stock to nonprofit organizations." You can read more about how the Chronicle of Philanthropy compiles its annual list here. You can find the Chronicle of Philanthropy's full ranking here.

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