Survey shows that America's richest people have donated less than 0.1% of their wealth for coronavirus relief

Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, pictured on September 13, 2018.
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The 50 wealthiest people in America have publicly donated about $1 billion for coronavirus relief — that's a big number, but it adds up to a very small fraction of their combined net worth: less than 0.1%, according to a new survey from the Washington Post

The survey also found that nearly a third of these billionaires haven't announced any donations, though some who haven't contributed personally point to donations given through their corporations.

"Even many of the billionaires who have announced donations to Covid-19 relief efforts have given amounts that are relatively paltry when compared to the median net worth of an American household, which registers at $97,300," write Roxanne Roberts and Will Hobson of the Post.

Roberts and Hobson used this number to calculate what these billionaires' donations would equate to for the median American. For example, Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world with a net worth of $143 billion, has donated $125 million. That's equivalent to about $85 for the median American donor, according to the Post's calculations.

Leading the way in terms of amount of personal donations are Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates and Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey.

Gates, who's been one of the most outspoken public figures from the beginning of the pandemic, has donated roughly $300 million through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. That translates into about $283 for the median American.

Dorsey isn't among the 50th wealthiest Americans (he ranks No. 147), but he has pledged $1 billion in equity from Square. That's a large chunk of his net worth, about 28%, and equates to more than $27,000 for the median American. You can see exactly where his money is going on this spreadsheet he created.

Hedge fund manager Ray Dalio has been the most generous among America's 50th wealthiest individuals in terms of donations relative to net worth. He's given more than $100 million of his $18 billion fortune, or about $589 for the median American. 

But when it comes to billionaire donations for coronavirus relief, Gates, Dorsey and Dalio are "the exception, not the rule," the Post reports, pointing out that donations from some billionaires, including business magnate Donald Newhouse and Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke, are equivalent to less than $10 for the median American.

Critics of the nation's wealthiest individuals are quick to point out that they're the ones getting richer during the pandemic: American billionaires saw their fortunes climb $434 billion between mid-March and mid-May, according to a new report from Americans for Tax Fairness and the Institute for Policy Studies' Program for Inequality. 

The five richest Americans — Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffett and Larry Ellison — saw their combined fortunes soar by $76 billion.

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What is a pandemic?
What is a pandemic?