‘You should publicly announce where the money is going to’: Elon Musk gave $5.7 billion in Tesla stock to charity, but the beneficiaries may forever remain a secret

Elon Musk will happily broadcast a few choice words about U.S. senators, but he’s quieter when it comes to his philanthropy. There’s a good chance the public may never know which charity or charities benefited from the approximately $5.7 billion in Tesla
TSLA,
-2.21%
stock Musk donated in 2021.

While there are some public-disclosure laws in philanthropy, billionaire donors like Musk can easily keep the details of their giving under wraps, and it’s legal for them to do so.

Musk — who signed the Giving Pledge in 2012, promising to give away most of his wealth — doesn’t send out press releases announcing his donations, though he occasionally tweets about them. Tesla doesn’t typically respond to press inquiries (it did not for this story), and there’s no contact information listed on Musk’s foundation’s bare-bones website. The Tesla stock donation was revealed in an SEC filing Monday that described the donated shares as a gift “to charity,” but didn’t specify which one.

One possible candidate is the United Nations World Food Program. Musk got into a public Twitter spat with the WFP shortly before he donated the stock, and said he would donate $6 billion to the hunger relief agency if it could show how the money would “solve world hunger.” A WFP spokesman initially told MarketWatch this week that it doesn’t disclose donors, but allows donors to publicize their gifts themselves. The WFP’s executive director later said that the group had not received any funds yet from Musk, and added that “I am excited to hear that Elon is engaged. This is an amazing and great first step.”

“The lack of transparency around Musk’s donation is the latest example of how elite philanthropists can evade scrutiny too easily, critics say.”

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