MacKenzie Scott Gives Away $4.2 Billion Of Her Fortune In Just 4 Months

by Valerie Williams
Greg Doherty/Patrick McMullan/Getty

MacKenzie Scott is giving away billions of her fortune and pointing out how well billionaires did this year as many people struggled

During a year where the rich got (a lot) richer and average folks experienced life-shattering job loss and poverty, MacKenzie Scott, author and ex-wife of billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, decided to do what she could to right the ship. Having already donated $1.7 billion earlier this year, Scott wanted to accelerate her charitable gifts for 2020 to help select non-profits do as much good as possible during this absolute dumpster fire of a year. Her desire to help has led to an unprecedented $4.2 billion of her fortune going to charitable causes in just four months time.

Scott announced the donations in a post for Medium where she also acknowledged the myriad ways people are suffering this year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. “This pandemic has been a wrecking ball in the lives of Americans already struggling,” she writes. “Economic losses and health outcomes alike have been worse for women, for people of color, and for people living in poverty. Meanwhile, it has substantially increased the wealth of billionaires.”

Scott notes the groups of people the pandemic has been hardest on and after working through a list of 6,490 organizations, the philanthropist and her team of advisers zeroed in on 384 organizations — hence, the title of her Medium post. She also lists those groups at the end of her post so people can donate if they like. Scott focused much of her giving on diversity, sending funds to several tribal colleges and historically Black colleges and universities.

In describing the 384 organizations she chose, Scott says, “Some are filling basic needs: food banks, emergency relief funds, and support services for those most vulnerable. Others are addressing long-term systemic inequities that have been deepened by the crisis: debt relief, employment training, credit and financial services for under-resourced communities, education for historically marginalized and underserved people, civil rights advocacy groups, and legal defense funds that take on institutional discrimination.”

As it turns out, it’s actually pretty complicated giving away that amount of money in very short order. Scott asked her advisers to figure out how to give her fortune away faster, according to her blog post. “After my post in July, I asked a team of advisors to help me accelerate my 2020 giving through immediate support to people suffering the economic effects of the crisis,” she writes. “They took a data-driven approach to identifying organizations with strong leadership teams and results, with special attention to those operating in communities facing high projected food insecurity, high measures of racial inequity, high local poverty rates, and low access to philanthropic capital.”

According to Bloomberg, Scott’s 2020 philanthropy “has to be one of the biggest annual distributions by a living individual” to working charities, according to Melissa Berman, chief executive officer of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. Also noteworthy? “She shares the results of her research and criteria so that donors of all levels can learn about organizations that are particularly worthy of support,” said Boston College law professor Ray Madoff. In other words, she’s paving the way for other wealthy individuals to do exactly as she’s done. True queen moves.

Scott signed The Giving Pledge last year saying, “I have a disproportionate amount of money to share. My approach to philanthropy will continue to be thoughtful. It will take time and effort and care. But I won’t wait. And I will keep at it until the safe is empty.”

Looks like she’s speedily making good on that promise during a time when help is needed most.