Megadonor and novelist Mackenzie Scott announced nearly $2 billion in donations to 343 organizations in a short blog post on Monday.
Megadonor and novelist Mackenzie Scott announced nearly $2 billion in donations to 343 organizations in a short blog post Monday, emphasizing their interest in supporting people from underserved communities.
In her first post about eight months ago, Scott offered her donations to several funds as a “great resource” for donating. “They fundraise and spread across a variety of smaller organizations working for a common cause,” she wrote. “The funds we selected are looking for teams with live experience in the issues they address.”
Scott also reiterated a promise she first made in December of last year to release a database of the organizations she has donated to.
The list of new donations includes several previously announced donations, including $85 million to Girl Scouts of the United States last month, $39 million to Junior Achievement USA in August, and $123 million to Big Brothers Big Sisters of America in mayo. However, in Monday’s post, no donation amounts were listed.
Scott’s recent gifts continue to show how successful eschewing the traditional “top-down, donor-knows-best” philanthropic approach can work, said Phil Buchanan, president of the Center for Effective Philanthropy.
Scott’s focus on fundraising donations allows her to support smaller organizations that are doing good work in specific areas.
On Tuesday, Buchanan said, his organization plans to release a research report on the impact of Scott’s donations from summer 2020 through summer 2021.
The Center for Effective Philanthropy studied tens of thousands of donations in that time frame and found that the average grant was $100,000. In the same period, the average grant from Scott was $8 million.
“That’s a completely different order of magnitude,” Buchanan said.
Anna Konner, co-director of the Third Wave Fund, which received a $3 million grant from Scott to support his work for youth-led gender justice, said the donation will help groups that are “falling into the cracks of philanthropy.”
“We are the bridge between these groups and major donors and great philanthropy,” Conner said. “By amplifying what the funds do, they make a wonderful call to work with wealthy donors to see what funding for community groups could look like.”
Lauren Janus, chief operating officer of philanthropic advisory firm Phīla Giving, applauded Scott for suggesting other donors give to funds led by people with lived experience in the communities in which they work.
“Charity doesn’t have to be the way it always has. It doesn’t have to be these normally white guys up in these tall towers handing out gifts to the deserving and grateful nonprofits below them,” Janus said. “It can be a real partnership. And in fact, it can also be where the relationship is where the funder is just a friend, supporting this amazing nonprofit and really fading into the background.”
Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, catapulted to philanthropic fame in 2019 when she pledged to give away the majority of her wealth and then dropped $5.8 billion in donations by the end of 2020.
Monday’s announcement brought the amount it said it had given away to about $14 billion to about 1,500 organizations.
In an interview with CNN published Monday, Bezos said he would give away the majority of his wealth in his lifetime, though he did not specify how.
Forbes estimates Scott’s net worth at $29.5 billion, a number that has fallen since its peak in 2021.
As she has done in previous jobs, Scott has expressed her desire to elevate the work of the organizations she supports while trying to avoid the spotlight herself. She reproduced a poem by Gwen Neal Westerman, the poet, visual artist, and professor from Minnesota, which appears to speak in the voice of someone trying to repair the damage but apparently not trying to understand the harm done in the first place. .
The poem, titled “Dakota Homecoming,” ends with what Westermann says is a direct quote: “We want to write a letter of apology, they told us: Tell us what to say.”
Westermann said Scott was honored to have chosen her poetry as the inspiration for her work, adding that she believes many people will recognize the sentiment in the poem.
“Not having context or not having any kind of similar lived experience and knowing something needs to be done and then putting all the work and effort on that marginalized group or the oppressed group and saying, ‘Here’s to help us fix it,'” he said.
Scott said Westermann’s poem, which her staff requested permission to reproduce in advance, inspires her to stop talking every time she reads it.
“I had to shut down my laptop for a few days before writing this very short post,” Scott writes.
In addition to the speed and scale of her giving, Scott’s approach to spending her money has caught the attention of other major donors and nonprofit recipients: She uses a small team of advisors led by a consulting firm and typically informs nonprofits of the largest donations they’ve ever received through a cold call or email follow-up. not described. Her gifts come with no strings attached and very few reporting requirements.
Because she made these donations as an individual rather than through a foundation, there are few public records besides announcements from recipient organizations — not all of which disclose the amounts she received.
For the past three years, Scott has only spoken out about her philanthropy through her blog posts, choosing not to respond to media requests.
“I think we can all do well on our own levels, and can be inspired by the generosity of others like Mackenzie Scott,” said Westermann.
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