MacKenzie Scott’s $8.6 billion giveaway: The 786 donations former Mrs Bezos has made since their split

Fourth richest woman in world is fulfilling pledge to give away sizeable portion of wealth

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Thursday 12 August 2021 18:30
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<p>Philanthropy MacKenzie Scott Donation</p>

Philanthropy MacKenzie Scott Donation

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MacKenzie Scott has vaulted to the peak of philanthropic giving since her split from former husband and founder of Amazon Jeff Bezos.

Ms Scott, now the fourth richest woman in the world, has become one of the most powerful forces in charitable giving, donating $8.6bn in just 12 months.

This astonishing amount puts her ahead of the Gates Foundation and Ford Foundation’s annual grants, combined. The donations have been so sizeable that they are reshaping the nonprofit world.

Bloomberg has analysed and categorised all 786 gifts given by Ms Scott and her team, and through surveys and reporting attributed dollar amounts to 375 of the grants.

In the overall pool of grants, 35 per cent went to social assistance organisations, 32 per cent went to philanthropy and grant-making infrastructure, 13 per cent on education, and 12 per cent on arts and culture.

The remaining eight per cent is split between health, international affairs, environment, and religion. Most donations were made in the US, though some of the recipients disburse funds globally.

Of the disclosed grants analysed by Bloomberg, which total $4.3bn, the percentage breakdown is still largely representative of the total.

The largest amount — approximately $1.6bn — went to education nonprofits and colleges and universities, with historically Black institutions and those serving the Hispanic community benefiting the most.

Philanthropy and grantmaking infrastructure nonprofits, which focus on fundraising, advocacy, and philanthropy itself, received $1.2bn.

Social assistance organisations, such as groups that clothe, feed, and house those in need, were gifted just under $1bn.

Most gift recipients (almost 90 per cent) told Bloomberg that it was the largest they’d ever received, with many describing the donation as “transformational”.

As Ms Scott is a relatively new force in philanthropy, it is unclear whether her focus will remain on the sectors that she has been so generous with to date.

In July 2020, following George Floyd’s murder, Ms Scott had given away a total of $1.7bn, and the largest part — almost $600m — went to racial equity groups.

The hunger crisis in the US caused by the Covid-19 pandemic saw her make large donations to organisations involved in food banks and delivering meals to those in need.

It is possible that Ms Scott’s focus may change over time and fields such as healthcare or climate change may benefit more in the future.

Shared with new husband Dan Jewett, a Seattle science teacher, Ms Scott’s fortune is estimated at $58bn. Following her divorce from Mr Bezos in 2019 she signed the Giving Pledge to donate the majority of her wealth during her lifetime or in her will.

Mr Bezos, one of the richest men in the world with a fortune of $190m, is yet to sign the pledge, but in 2020 he committed $10bn to launch the Bezos Earth Fund as well as making sizeable donations to charities such as Feeding America for pandemic food banks.

The Amazon founder stepped down from his position as CEO earlier this year in order to spend more time on philanthropy and other projects — including his space launch company Blue Origin.

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