In her brief career as one of the world’s foremost philanthropists, MacKenzie Scott has made a name for herself for the sheer volume and speed of her donations, donating nearly $ 6 billion in her fortune this year alone.
Ms. Scott, a writer who was once married to Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, announced in a Medium post Tuesday that she’d given nearly $ 4.2 billion to 384 organizations over the past four months have. Many of the groups are focused on basic needs for millions of people during a difficult year, including food banks and meals on wheels.
“This pandemic has been a wrecking ball in the lives of Americans who have already struggled,” Ms. Scott wrote. “Economic losses and health consequences were worse for women, people of color and people living in poverty alike. Meanwhile, it has significantly increased the wealth of the billionaires. “
Mainstays like NAACP, Easterseals, Goodwill and United Way were on the list. This also applies to more than 100 separate YMCA and YWCA organizations across the country which, like many nonprofits, have lost tremendous revenue even though the demand for their services has increased.
And smaller organizations like a nonprofit affordable home lender in Minnesota and a group helping people pay off medical debts also received funding.
Ms. Scott’s post did not include the amounts paid to each organization, but it did say that the full amount pledged is prepaid and unrestricted or “no commitment” as she put it.
Dec. Dec. 16, 2020, 11:04 am ET
Morgan State University, a historically black university in Baltimore, announced it had received $ 40 million, the largest private gift in the institution’s history. Ms. Scott said the money went to groups in all 50 states, Washington and Puerto Rico.
Chuck Collins, director of the Charity Reform Initiative at the Institute for Policy Studies, said he couldn’t think of anyone who gave away more this year, at least in terms of publicly announced grants. “She’s responding to the current moment with urgency,” said Mr. Collins.
“They think of all of these tech achievements, they are the big disruptors, but it disrupts the norms surrounding billionaire philanthropy by moving fast and not creating a private foundation for their great-grandchildren to give away the money,” added Collins.
The Institute for Political Studies has pushed for legislation that will double the amount of money foundations will have to pay from 5 percent a year to 10 percent for the next three years to meet the yawning needs caused by the pandemic.
For context, the Gates Foundation, in many ways the largest and most influential nonprofit in the world, raised $ 5.1 billion in direct grants with the fortunes of both Microsoft founder Bill Gates and investor Warren E. Buffett. Dollars awarded in 2019. However, the Gates Foundation has decades of experience and more than 1,600 employees, while Ms. Scott only referred to a team of advisors to help her find good causes.
While the Gates Foundation may donate more than $ 5.9 billion through its Covid-19 response, the number shows how quickly Ms. Scott has risen to become the number one donor worldwide.
In July, Ms. Scott announced that she had donated $ 1.7 billion to historically black colleges and universities, as well as groups promoting women’s rights, LGBTQ equality and the fight against climate change, among others. Howard University said at the time it had received $ 40 million, a donation it described as “transformative”.
When Ms. Scott and Mr. Bezos were divorced last year, Ms. Scott received 4 percent of Amazon’s outstanding shares, or 19.7 million shares. They were valued at around $ 38.3 billion at the time. Those stocks would be valued at approximately $ 62 billion today after a pandemic-triggered surge in Amazon stocks. It’s not clear how many stocks she sold.