Just over two years ago, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos sent an interesting request to hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter, asking for ideas as to where he should donate part of his fortune:
One sentence, in particular, stood out from that request.
After acknowledging that he's a huge fan of long-term investments that contribute to society, Bezos said this:
"I'm thinking I want much of my philanthropic activity to be helping people in the here and now--short term--at the intersection of urgent need and lasting impact."
Urgent need and lasting impact.
In the past few weeks, the perfect idea has emerged that would satisfy Bezos's conditions for how he'd like to spend his money.
You've probably heard that the Amazon rain forest, the largest rain forest on earth, is on fire. While information is still being gathered, the BBC reported that the destruction this year is already worse than it's been in almost a decade.
This is a big deal, because there's a clear link between the health of the Amazon and the health of the planet, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the world's leading conservation organization. The WWF claims that "deforestation may release significant amounts of this carbon, which could have catastrophic consequences around the world."
All of this is why people around the world have been taking to Twitter to encourage the world's richest man to do something about a problem that is definitely of "urgent need and lasting impact."
For example, actor George Takei tweeted the following on Saturday:
Crazy idea for @JeffBezos. Your company has taken some flak for not paying taxes and worker conditions. What an amazing gift it would be if @amazon stepped up and pledged a huge sum to help save the very rainforest that bears its name? It's on fire, and the world needs heroes.-- George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) August 24, 2019
In just two days, Takei's tweet has racked up almost 30,000 retweets and well over 100,000 likes.
If you think about it, the idea for Bezos to support an Amazon rescue makes perfect sense.
It's a great way to give back.
According to Business Insider, Bezos's inspiration for the name of his company came from the largest river on the planet--the Amazon. It was a perfect metaphor for what would eventually become known as "The Everything Store."
That name has done a lot for Bezos over the years. As he told Inc. in an interview way back in 1997:
"There's nothing about our model that can't be copied over time. But you know, McDonald's got copied. And it still built a huge, multibillion-dollar company. A lot of it comes down to the brand name. Brand names are more important online than they are in the physical world."
What better way to show appreciation than to help save the home of the original Amazon?
It's a great PR move.
As Takei's tweet alludes to, Amazon doesn't have the greatest reputation when it comes to playing nice with others--whether it comes to taxes, competitors, or even its own employees.
But can you imagine going down in history as the company that helped save the largest rainforest in the world?
Now, that's an image boost Amazon could definitely benefit from.
It sets the right example.
Just last week, Bezos signed a statement, along with over 150 other CEOs, claiming to share a fundamental commitment to all stakeholders, which included a promise to "protect the environment by embracing sustainable practices across our businesses."
By supporting the Amazon rescue effort, Bezos has an opportunity to put his money where his mouth is. To walk the walk, instead of just talking the talk.
And if Amazon took the lead, other companies would surely follow.
So, it's your move, Mr. Bezos. All eyes are on you.
Play this one right, and not only will you have chosen a great name for your company, you just might prove that you deserve to bear it.