Guter Rat
Four members and Alexandra Wang, the project coordinator of the organization 'Guter Rat' tasked with giving away 25 million euros of 31-year-old heiress Marlene Engelhorn's fortune, speak at a press conference to name the 70 organisations that will receive a share of the funds. Image Credit: Reuters

Vienna: The group responsible for allocating the bulk of Austrian-German heiress Marlene Engelhorn's multi-million-euro inheritance announced on Tuesday the dozens of organizations, projects, and initiatives that will benefit from her generosity.

The 32-year-old activist, who advocates for higher taxes on the rich, made headlines in January when she announced her intention to give away 25 million euros ($26.8 million), the bulk of her inheritance. Engelhorn entrusted a team to establish a citizens council of 50 Austrians to propose ideas on how to distribute her wealth.

On Tuesday, members of the citizens group revealed that Engelhorn's millions would be distributed among 77 organizations focused on environmental protection, education, integration, health and social issues, as well as poverty alleviation and affordable housing in Austria.

Engelhorn, who co-founded the Taxmenow initiative, is among a select group of millionaires advocating for increased taxation on the wealthy to address the growing wealth gap amid a persistent cost-of-living crisis. A scion of the founder of BASF chemical giant, Friedrich Engelhorn, she inherited millions when her grandmother died in 2022.

Individual organizations will receive amounts ranging from 40,000 euros to 1.6 million euros over the next few years. The largest allotment will go to the Austrian Society for Nature Conservation.

"The result is as diverse as the council itself. But what all the decisions have in common is that they aim for a fairer society and support those who are discriminated against," project manager Alexandra Wang said at a news conference on Tuesday.

From March to June, 50 Austrians were compensated to gather over six weekends in Salzburg to develop solutions "in the interests of society as a whole." Four council members shared their experiences on Tuesday, describing the initiative as a "democratic project" and an "exciting challenge" to find solutions to pressing issues "as equals" and based on consensus.

The youngest participant, 17-year-old student Kyrillos Gadalla, said he had "learned a lot" from conversations with different council members, the oldest of whom was 85.

Engelhorn did not attend Tuesday's press conference, having withdrawn from the process once the council was established.

"A large part of my inherited wealth, which through my birth has elevated me to a position of power, has now been redistributed in accordance with democratic values," Engelhorn said in a statement.

In January, 10,000 randomly selected Austrians aged over 16 were invited to join the citizens council, designed to reflect the Alpine country's demographic mix.

Oxfam reported in January that the world's billionaires are $3.3 trillion richer than they were in 2020, while nearly five billion people worldwide have grown poorer, highlighting "levels of obscene inequality."