In Philanthropy: Bernard Arnault’s $10 Billion Donation and More

The newest donation from Jeff Bezos will funnel $22.8 million towards land restoration in Africa.

From Bernard Arnault’s multi-million-dollar gift in support of food aid in France to an astronomical donation from Dan Gilbert toward health institutions in Detroit, these are some of the most notable developments in the philanthropic world.

Bernard Arnault gives 10 million euros ($10.7 million) to Restos du Coeur

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LVMH head Bernard Arnault announced a multi-million dollar donation on September 4. AFP via Getty Images

Bernard Arnault, the billionaire head of luxury conglomerate LVMH (LVMHF), revealed earlier this week that his family is donating 10 million euros ($10.7 million) to Restos du Coeur, a French food bank. Translating to “Restaurants of the Heart,” the charity provides 35 percent of France’s food aid.

“Through this act of solidarity, the Arnault family wishes to actively contribute to helping a magnificent general interest association that has been working continuously for nearly 40 years to assist the most vulnerable,” said Arnault and his family in a statement. Restos du Coeur has reportedly been forced to cut back its services in recent months amid budgetary issues stemming from inflation. The donation was made shortly after Arnault learned of the non-profit’s “significant financial difficulties.”

This isn’t the first time Arnault, the world’s second richest person (with an estimated net worth of $196 billion) has centered his philanthropic efforts in France. He previously pledged $226 million toward the reconstruction of Notre Dame Cathedral, one-upping the $112 million pledge made by Francois Pinault, founder of luxury conglomerate Kering, LVMH’s primary rival. Arnault additionally made a multi-million dollar donation toward French hospitals during the Covid-19 pandemic, and earlier this year funded France’s $47 million acquisition of a Gustave Caillebotte painting. His other philanthropic contributions have included an $11 million gift in 2019 toward organizations fighting Amazon (AMZN) wildfires.

Jeff Bezos pledges $22.8 million to locally led land restoration in Africa

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The Amazon founder made his most recent donation through the Bezos Earth Fund. Dave J. Hogan/Getty Images

The Bezos Earth Fund, launched by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in 2020, recently announced its plans to funnel $22.8 million toward locally led restoration efforts in the Greater Rift Valley in Kenya and the Lake Kivu and Rusizi River Basin in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi.

Focused on 600,000 hectares of land, the restoration efforts could sequester 42 million metric tons of carbon dioxide by 2050, which would be equivalent to removing 9.3 million gas-powered vehicles from the streets, according to the Bezos Earth Fund. The grants will aid community and grassroots-led groups, supporting research into native tree seed supply, monitoring of land change and restoration and fundraising and investment related to restoration projects.

The gift represents the second major donation from Bezos, the world’s third richest man with a fortune of $161 billion, in recent weeks. In mid-August, Bezos and his fiancee Lauren Sanchez pledged $100 million to aid relief efforts for the Hawaii wildfires, launching a Maui fund.

Meanwhile, the Bezos Earth Fund, which aims to give out $10 billion by 2030, made a $12 million grant to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in July to help the Panama-based facility further its goal of preserving tropical ecosystems. The gift follows Bezos’ $200 million donation to the Smithsonian in 2021—the largest donation to the institution since the 1846 founding gift from James Smithson.

Jennifer and Dan Gilbert contribute $375 million to neurofibromatosis research and treatment

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Dan Gilbert’s nine-figure donation will focus on rehabilitation and neurofibromatosis. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In Detroit, a staggering pledge from Dan Gilbert, the founder of mortgage lender Rocket Companies, will establish two new health facilities. The Gilbert Family Foundation, founded by Dan and his wife Jennifer, is contributing nearly $375 million to the creation of a 72-bed inpatient rehabilitation center and a research institute dedicated to neurofibromatosis (NF), a genetic disease that causes tumors to grow on nerve pathways.

Gilbert’s donation will cover the majority of the projects’ $439 million construction and operational costs over the next decade. The rehabilitation center, managed by Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, will become part of healthcare provider Henry Ford Health’s upcoming expansion, while the NF institute will be built in partnership with both Henry Ford Health and Michigan State University.

Both institutes are personal for Gilbert, who suffered a stroke in 2019 and was formerly a patient of Shirley Ryan AbilityLab. The NF center will be named after his son Nick, who died earlier this year from complications of the disease. “While our family has faced severe health crises, we have been fortunate to receive some of the best medical and rehabilitative care in the country,” said Gilbert in a statement, adding that he hopes his investments can “enhance access to that same top-notch care for all Detroiters in times of need.”

Gilbert, who has pledged to give away the majority of his $21.3 billion fortune, largely directs his charitable giving toward NF research and fighting inequity in Detroit. His previous donations have included a 10-year, $500 million pledge to reduce poverty and improve neglected areas of the city, a $20 million fund for local home repairs and a $30 million gift to Michigan’s Cranbrook Academy of Arts.

In Philanthropy: Bernard Arnault’s $10 Billion Donation and More