Billionaire Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott Announces Donation of $640 Million

Source: Evan Agostini

A country as wealthy as America inevitably creates super wealthy individuals. The opportunity to start from nothing and make yourself is the major tenant of the American dream, and when someone makes it, many of them take the opportunity to give something back to the people and communities who helped them get where they are.

Amazon in the Early Days

Amazon is one of the companies that showcases the power of perseverance and American ingenuity. The company was started back in 1995 as a bookstore, by Jeff Bezos and his then-wife, Mackenzie Scott.

Source: Wikimedia/Matti Blume

Amazon first started out of the family garage, and Mackenzie and Jeff worked tirelessly at their company for the first few years, getting the company off its feet. The servers required to run Amazon were so intense that when they were running, the Bezos’ couldn’t run hair appliances for fear of blowing the fuse box. 

Reaping the Rewards Quickly

Jeff Bezos started reaping the rewards of his and his wife’s hard work shortly after the company was first founded. He was formally made a millionaire in 1998, and then a billionaire in 1999. His net worth at the time was listed at 10.1 billion dollars, and that number has significantly fluctuated and grown in turn in the years since.

Source: Wikimedia/Seattle City Council from Seattle

Bezos is now the wealthiest man in the world, with a net worth of $199 billion dollars as of March, 2024. He was the first person to become a centibillionaire, a remarkable accomplishment for despite criticism of Bezos as an ungenerous and stingy leader of Amazon, prior to his resignation as CEO in 2021.

A Marriage in Trouble

Bezos’ personal relationships have taken a hit over his years as leader of Amazon as well. Mackenzie Scott made significant contributions to the company in the early days of Amazon, but took a step back from direct influence as the company grew and they were able to hire employees to manage the operations. 

Source: Wikimedia/JD Lasica from Pleasanton

Unfortunately, that contribution didn’t stop Bezos and Scott’s marriage from deteriorating over the years, and in 2019, the couple announced that they would be divorcing. The announcement came out after a leak about Bezos having a long-term affair with media personality, Lauren Sanchez.

Scott Escaping with Wealth

While it’s never a happy situation when a marriage ends, Scott made it out alright. In the divorce settlement, she was granted 25% of Amazon’s stock (worth approximately $35 billion at the time), though Bezos was able to keep the couple’s entire voting rights in the company. 

Source: Wikimedia/U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

A public statement from Scott in the wake of the divorce stated that she was content with the way things had turned out, and that she was looking forward to her future directions. At that point, Scott had published several books that had done very well, and it was a safe bet to assume that she would take her new freedom and wealth and use it to fund her publishing career. 

Using Her Money for Good

What many people did not expect was for Scott to take her newly garnered wealth and start using it for philanthropic work. After she and Bezon separated, news stories started coming out about the billions of dollars that she was using to fund various charities that she supported. 

Source: Yield Giving

In a transparency post on her website, Scott revealed that she donated a whopping total of $2.3 billion in 2023. She specified several charities that she donated significant amounts to, though she didn’t state outright every organization that she funded. 

Further Charitable Efforts

Scott hasn’t stopped her charitable efforts since the transparency post was listed, though. Instead, she recently pledged $640 million to various charities, more than double her initial charitable investment. The donation is managed by Yield Giving, the philanthropic company that Scott founded in order to manage her charitable donations.

Source: Yield Giving

The money will go to a variety of 361 small nonprofit organizations, who applied for the assistance through an open application process managed by Lever for Change. The grants ranged from $1-2 million for organizations with budgets between $1-5 million, which support underserved communities. 

In Line With Previous Donations

This is well in line with Scott’s previous giving efforts. In the past she has donated to pro-LGBTQ+ charities, charities that work with the homeless, and more. She’s pledged to give away more than half of the wealth that she acquired in her divorce from Jeff Bezos, and the total amount that she has donated has reached well over $16 billion.

Source: Wikimedia/Miyin2

Mackenzie’s post about the charities that benefited from her donations represents a significant shift to a more transparent process, compared to Scott’s previous unsolicited gifts. 

A Large Number of Applicants

For the current round of charity, more than 6000 nonprofits applied for aid from Level for Change. These applications were evaluated by applicants, and then an external panel to determine who would get the donations from Scott.

Source: Pexels/RDNE Stock Project

Increasing the amount of money that Scott had pledged to donate allowed for a significantly greater number of applicants to be helped by Scott, which was an unexpectedly positive outcome. 

A Unique Style of Funding

Experts say that this format of giving can help overlooked groups access funding opportunities that they might not otherwise have. “One of the best things about prize philanthropy is that it surfaces people and organizations and institutions that otherwise wouldn’t have access to the people in the power centers and the funding,” Renee Karibi-Whyte, senior vice president of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, said.

Source: Pexels/Julia M. Cameron

Scott’s model is also different from other forms of charity, because the gift of funds is given with no restrictions or requirements. This aims to have the broadest impact in terms of philanthropy, and allow the organizations to do the most amount of good with the money that they wouldn’t have otherwise had. 

Praise for MacKenzie Scott

Experts have praised Scott for her strategy of giving. “I think she’s really helping to set a new path for philanthropy broadly, which is with that philosophy of: Find people doing good work and give them resources, and then get out of the way,” said Gender Justice executive director Megan Peterson.

Source: Pexels/cottonbro studio

“I am grateful for not just the support individually, but the way in which I think she is having an impact on philanthropy broadly,” Peterson finished. This is a common perception of Scott and the work that she’s doing, though this hope has yet to bear any fruits of labor.

Gratitude from the Lady Herself

Scott was open about how grateful she was to see that the monetary gifts that she’s distributing have impacted people, as well as how the information helps her and her team. “Information from other people…has been enormously helpful to me. If more information about these gifts can be helpful to anyone, I want to share it.”

Source: Pexels/Samuel Peter

In pursuit of her goal of giving away more than half her fortune, Scott has further plans for charitable donations for organizations and projects that she feels strongly about. However, she’s flexible in her approach, stating that “she’s thinking, changing and tweaking the ‘how’ of how it’s done, and she’s still trying to go with the spirit of what she committed to.”

Accusations of “Wokeness”

While it’s an incredible gift, what Scott is doing for many communities, there are many individuals who are less than thrilled about her actions. Many of the organizations that she’s supported have been accused of being “woke,” inciting backlash from far-right organizations. 

Source: Wikimedia/Steve Jurvetson

Even other high profile billionaires have criticized Scott for her charity. Elon Musk went on X, formerly known as Twitter, accusing Scott of being a “super rich ex-wife” who’s going out of her way to destroy Western civilization.

Sticking to Her Commitment

Despite the criticism and praise alike, Mackenzie Scott doesn’t appear to be allowing any of it to go to her head. She made a commitment in 2019 to use her new windfall fortune to benefit people who were less fortunate than her, and to this day, she is continuing to honor that commitment in every way that she can.

Source: Facebook/MacKenzie Scott Foundation

It will be fascinating to watch and see what Scott uses her money and her philanthropy for in the future. She’s dedicated a significant amount of money in the past to housing projects and organizations helping the homeless, but that’s only the beginning of America’s problems. Social issues and women’s rights are needing increasing attention from philanthropists like Scott, and it will be interesting to watch and see whether she shifts her attention to new focuses in the future.

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James Cross

Written by James Cross

James Cross, an enigmatic writer from the historic city of Boston. James' writing delves into mysteries, true crime, and the unexplained, crafting compelling narratives that keep readers and viewers on the edge of their seats. His viral articles, blog posts, and documentary-style videos explore real-life enigmas and unsolved cases, inviting audiences to join the quest for answers. James' ability to turn real mysteries into shareable content has made him a sensation in the world of storytelling.

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