The people of Maui seem to be wondering whether Jeff Bezos is really going to put his money where his mouth is.
Last year, the Amazon founder said that he’d donate $100 million to help Hawaii after the wildfires that broke out in the state over the summer. But so far, he’s only given a portion of that massive sum, and nobody knows where exactly it’s gone, Bloomberg reported on Thursday. A spokesperson for Bezos and Lauren Sánchez, his fiancée, told the outlet that the couple has given $15.5 million over the past five months through the Bezos Maui Fund, but he wouldn’t specify which groups or people may have received the funds.
“Nobody’s heard anything at all,” Hawaii State Senator Angus McKelvey told Bloomberg. “Had they simply consulted with the community and myself and other representatives, we would’ve told them, ‘Take your money and put it over here.’”
Several nonprofits working in Hawaii in the wake of the fires told the outlet that they hadn’t received money from Bezos and Sanchez. Some said that it may have gone to the Hawaii Community Foundation, where a representative told Bloomberg that they didn’t have any information about the funds but that they did get $2 million in September from a foundation started by Bezos’s parents. The billionaire’s spokesperson, meanwhile, said in an email to Bloomberg that the other $84.5 million pledged “will be distributed in the coming years as the continuing needs reveal themselves.”
This isn’t the first time Bezos has talked a big game with little follow-up. Over the years, he’s mentioned a $10 billion climate pledge, $100 million grants to famous names like Dolly Parton and José Andrés, and giving away the majority of his $178 billion fortune during his lifetime. But few details have been shared about the status of those donations.
Benjamin Soskis, a senior research associate at the Urban Institute’s Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy, told Bloomberg that this gives Bezos “maximum publicity with minimum accountability … Bezos has gained the benefits of public attention and in exchange he needs to provide more information.”
Perhaps he could learn something from his ex-wife: MacKenzie Scott has given away more than $16.5 billion since their divorce, and she includes all the recipients of her money on her website. That level of transparency has been welcomed by the public—something from which Bezos could take a hint or two.