MacKenzie Scott, the former wife of Amazon founder and CEO of Jeff Bezos, has donated $4.2 billion to 384 organisations across the USA over the last four months.
Many of the chosen organisations are responding to the economic impact of Covid-19, including food banks and emergency relief funds. Scott has also donated to organisations “addressing long-term systemic inequities that have been deepened by the crisis”. These include civil rights groups and universities traditionally serving marginalised communities.
Writing on Medium, Scott shared the planning behind the selection process, saying that her team took a “data-driven” approach, initially considering 6,490 organisations. She said:
We do this research and deeper diligence not only to identify organizations with high potential for impact, but also to pave the way for unsolicited and unexpected gifts given with full trust and no strings attached. Because our research is data-driven and rigorous, our giving process can be human and soft. Not only are non-profits chronically underfunded, they are also chronically diverted from their work by fundraising, and by burdensome reporting requirements that donors often place on them.
Many of the recipient organisations have publicly thanked Scott for her generosity. Virginia State College, a historically black institution, was one of these:
Virginia State University (VSU) has received the largest single donor gift in the 138-year history of the University. Author and Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott has gifted VSU $30 Million. pic.twitter.com/JsSM8HhX9f
— VirginiaStateUniversity (@VSU_1882) December 15, 2020
These donations follow Scott’s commitment to the Giving Pledge last year, which saw 40 of America’s wealthiest people collectively agree to give the majority of their wealth away. Writing about the pledge, Scott, who has an estimated net worth of $57.2 billion, said: “in addition to whatever assets life has nurtured in me, I have a disproportionate amount of money to share.” The Giving Pledge was created by Bill and Melinda Gates and includes high-profile billionaires such as Richard Branson, Elon Musk and Michael Bloomberg.
- How much do UK charities receive from Amazon Smile? (29 June 2020)
- Amazon founder launches Bezos Earth Fund (18 February 2020)
- Britain’s youngest self-made billionaire joins the Giving Pledge (29 May 2019)
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