MacKenzie Scott, who was married to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos for 25 years, has donated more than $4 billion in the past four months to hundreds of organizations and charities—in particular to food banks and emergency relief funds across the USA.
A month after her divorce from the world’s richest man, Scott signed the Giving Pledge—an initiative sparked by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett a decade ago—and promised to give away her billions “until the safe is empty.”
This July, she began making good on her promise, with GNN reporting that she had already donated $1.7 billion of her $60 billion fortune to 116 charities.
Last week, the 50-year-old announced that she’d given even more money away. Since summer, the world’s third-wealthiest woman has donated more than $4.15 billion to 384 organizations in Puerto Rico and the States—taking her 2020 donations so far to $6 billion.
According to the New York Times, these donations “might be among the most ever handed out directly to charities in a single year by a living donor.”
In a blog post that begins with an Emily Dickinson poem, Scott–a lauded novelist as well as a philanthropist—writes, “This pandemic has been a wrecking ball in the lives of Americans already struggling. Economic losses and health outcomes alike have been worse for women, for people of color, and for people living in poverty. Meanwhile, it has substantially increased the wealth of billionaires.”
Scott goes on to say she has been working with a team of advisors to help her accelerate her giving to organizations that need immediate support in the face of the COVID crisis.
Using a “data-driven approach” to identifying organizations with strong leadership teams, and paying “special attention to those operating in communities facing high projected food insecurity, high measures of racial inequity, high local poverty rates, and low access to philanthropic capital,” recipients of Scott’s funding include the YMCA, Meals on Wheels, the Global Fund for Women, civil rights organization the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs, many dozens of food banks, Goodwill, and various centers of education such as Blackfoot Community College.
According to Scott, these organizations help by delivering vital services, “and also through the profound encouragement felt each time a person is seen, valued, and trusted by another human being.”
Scott is not the only billionaire who’s been giving in 2020. While Jeff Bezos has not signed the Giving Pledge, he has distributed $791 million in grant money to large environmental organizations through the Bezos Earth Fund.