MacKenzie Scott donates $640 million -- more than double her initial plan -- to nonprofit applicants

The billionaire philanthropist and author MacKenzie Scott announced Tuesday she would give $640 million to more than 360 organizations in response to an application process she launched last year

Thalia Beaty
Tuesday 19 March 2024 15:01 GMT
Philanthropy-MacKenzie Scott
Philanthropy-MacKenzie Scott (2018 Invision)

MacKenzie Scott, the billionaire philanthropist and author, had promised to give $1 million to 250 organizations last year through an “open call” for applications. On Tuesday, she announced she would give $640 million to 361 organizations instead.

That makes her organization Yield Giving's first round of donations more than double what Scott had initially pledged in response to applications from nonprofits. Since she began giving away billions in 2019, Scott and her team have researched and selected organizations without an application process and provided them with large, unrestricted gifts.

In a brief note on her website, Scott wrote she was grateful to Lever for Change, the organization that managed the “open call,” and the evaluators for “their roles in creating this pathway to support for people working to improve access to foundational resources in their communities. They are vital agents of change.”

Some 6,353 nonprofits applied for the $1 million grants when applications opened.

“In light of the incredible work of these organizations, as judged by their peers and external panelists, the donor team decided to expand the awardee pool and the award amount," said Lever for Change, which specializes in running philanthropic prize awards.

The 279 nonprofits that received top scores from an external review panel were awarded $2 million, while 82 organizations in a second tier received $1 million each.

The “open call” asked for applications from nonprofits who are community-led with missions “to advance the voices and opportunities of individuals and families of meager or modest means,” Yield Giving said on its website. Only nonprofits with annual budgets between $1 and $5 million were eligible to apply.

“In a world teeming with potential and talent, the Open Call has given us an opportunity to identify, uplift, and empower transformative organizations that often remain unseen,” Cecilia Conrad, CEO of Lever for Change, said in a statement.

The awardees were selected through a multilayer process, where applicants scored fellow applicants and then the top organizations were reviewed by a panel of outside experts.

Scott has given away $16.5 billion from the fortune she came into after divorcing Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Initially, she publicized the gifts in online blog posts, sometimes naming the organizations and sometimes not. She launched a database of her giving in December 2022, under the name Yield Giving.

In an essay reflecting on the website, she wrote, “Information from other people – other givers, my team, the nonprofit teams I’ve been giving to – has been enormously helpful to me. If more information about these gifts can be helpful to anyone, I want to share it.”


Associated Press coverage of philanthropy and nonprofits receives support through the AP’s collaboration with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely responsible for this content. For all of AP’s philanthropy coverage, visit

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