When Mackenzie Scott, the ex-wife of Jeff Bezos and the single richest woman in the world, pledged in 2019 to donate much of her approximately $61-billion dollar fortune to charity, she didn’t set any particular timeline.
“We each come by the gifts we have to offer by an infinite series of influences and lucky breaks we can never fully understand. In addition to whatever assets life has nurtured in me, I have a disproportionate amount of money to share,” she wrote when she signed the Giving Pledge, a pledge taken by some of the world’s wealthiest people to give away at least half of what they have. “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.”
But what she witnessed in the world around her this year told her the time had come. In July, she announced the donation of $1.7 billion, targeted at organizations seeking to address discrimination and injustice, as well as groups working in public health and to combat climate change. Today she revealed another $4 billion in giving, supporting local organizations across the U.S. providing urgent aid to those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Scott documented her giving with posts on Medium, in which she shared all 500 specific groups she donated to, and described how she evaluated which charities to support.
“All of these leaders and organizations have a track record of effective management and significant impact in their fields. I gave each a contribution and encouraged them to spend it on whatever they believe best serves their efforts,” she wrote in July. “I recommend these organizations to anyone similarly excited by the idea of empowering leaders well-positioned to accelerate progress.”
For her most recent round of giving, Scott and her team started with a long-list of 6,490 organizations, which they eventually winnowed down to 384 (with another 438 put “on hold for now” but still on her radar for the future). Selected organizations include Genesis L.A., California Immigrant Resilience Fund, Movement for Black Lives, and the Transgender Law Center.
“Because our research is data-driven and rigorous, our giving process can be human and soft,” she wrote in today’s post.
In the post, she suggests that any of the groups listed are worthy of others in the public making their own donations–even if most won’t have $6 billion to hand out.
“If you’re craving a way to use your time, voice, or money to help others at the end of this difficult year, I highly recommend a gift to one of the thousands of organizations doing remarkable work all across the country,” she writes. “Every one of them could benefit from more resources to share with the communities they’re serving. And the hope you feed with your gift is likely to feed your own.”
Scott’s former husband, Jeff Bezos, is estimated to currently have personal wealth of around $182.2 billion. Of that, he’s made numerous charitable gifts–though critics say he donates less than his billionaire peers like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. In November, he announced a $10 billion program to combat climate change known as the Bezos Earth Fund, reported to be one of the largest single charitable commitments ever recorded.
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