During his short career as one of the world’s leading philanthropists, MacKenzie Scott stood out for the enormous scale of his donations and also for his speed, donating nearly $ 6 billion of his fortune this year alone.
Ms Scott, an author who was once married to Jeff Bezos, the founder and chief executive of Amazon, announced in a Medium article on Tuesday that she had donated nearly $ 4.2 billion to 384 organizations over the past four years. last months only. Many groups are focusing on basic needs, including food banks and meals on wheels, in a trying year for millions of people.
“This pandemic has taken a devastating toll on the lives of Americans already struggling,” Ms. Scott wrote. “The economic losses and the health outcomes have been worse for women, for people of color and for people living in poverty. During this time, he dramatically increased the wealth of billionaires.
Pillars like the NAACP, Easterseals, Goodwill and United Way made the list. The same has been true of over 100 separate YMCA and YWCA organizations nationwide, which like many nonprofits have lost huge amounts of revenue, even as demand for their services increased.
And smaller organizations like a nonprofit affordable housing lender in Minnesota and a group that helps people pay off medical debt have also received funding.
Ms. Scott’s message did not include amounts paid to individual organizations, but did indicate that the total amount committed was prepaid and unrestricted, or “unconditional” as she put it.
Morgan State University, a historically black university in Baltimore, announced that it had received $ 40 million, the largest private donation in the institution’s history. Ms Scott said the money went to groups in all 50 states, Washington and Puerto Rico.
Chuck Collins, director of the Charity Reform Initiative at the Institute for Policy Studies, said that, at least in terms of publicly announced grants, he couldn’t think of anyone who had given more this year. “She is responding with urgency at the present moment,” said Collins.
“You think of all these technological fortunes, they are the big disruptors, but she is disrupting the norms around billionaire philanthropy by acting quickly, without creating a private foundation for her great-grandchildren to donate money,” said added Mr. Collins.
The Institute for Policy Studies has pushed for legislation that would double the amount foundations are required to pay on their endowments from 5% per year to 10% for the next three years to meet dire needs created by the pandemic.
For context, the Gates Foundation, in many ways the largest and most influential charitable foundation in the world, with the fortune of Microsoft founder Bill Gates and investor Warren E. Buffett behind it, gave 5, $ 1 billion in direct grants in 2019. But the Gates Foundation has decades of experience and more than 1,600 employees, while Ms Scott referred only to a team of advisers helping her find worthy causes.
Although the Gates Foundation may surpass its $ 5.9 billion in donations thanks to its Covid-19 response, the figure illustrates how Ms. Scott has come to be the number one donor in the world.
In July, Ms Scott announced that she had donated $ 1.7 billion, among others, to historically black colleges and universities as well as groups supporting women’s rights, LGBTQ equality and the fight against climate change. Howard University said at the time it had received $ 40 million, a donation it called “transformative.”
When Ms Scott and Mr Bezos divorced last year, Ms Scott received 4 percent of Amazon’s outstanding shares, or 19.7 million shares. They were valued at the time at around $ 38.3 billion. Those stocks today, after a surge in Amazon stocks fueled by a pandemic, would be worth around $ 62 billion; it is not clear how many shares she sold.