MacKenzie Scott: The Billionaire Philanthropist Delivers Billions

$4.2 billion. With a “b.” That was the amount splashed across major news outlet headlines and press releases of hundreds of organizations throughout December – and many organizations are still counting. While COVID spurred the desire among so many to give in this time of need – and to give generously – Billionaire MacKenzie Scott stands out from the crowd in the sheer largess of the billions she gave away to charities as 2020 drew to a close.

Since September, Scott’s philanthropy has been on hyperdrive, with the latest round of giving benefiting at least 384 organizations. This comes on top of the $1.7 billion she invested in nonprofits in July 2020, bringing her publicly announced total of charitable giving to nearly $6 billion in a single year.

Most experts concur – no single person has given away such a large amount of money to charities and done so as quickly as Scott has done.

The Giving Pledge

Scott is one of the ultra-wealthy with a social conscience who has signed the Giving Pledge, a commitment from the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to use the majority of their wealth to support philanthropic causes during their lifetimes. Scott is among 216 pledgers from two dozen countries who signed the pledge. She did so just one month after her high-profile divorce from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos finalized in April 2019, making her one of the richest women in the world. The divorce settlement was worth $38 billion.

To that extent, Scott has been very public with her philanthropy from the outset, finding resonance with the purpose of the Giving Pledge itself – holding other members of the uber-wealthy class accountable for joining in and giving back.

But Scott isn’t just public about her philanthropy; she’s frequently profound and wonderfully eloquent in expounding upon it. For example, in commenting on the signing of the Pledge, Scott wrote, “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 wealth to share…and I will keep at it until the safe is empty.”

Scott has deftly utilized her blog to continue her narrative of philanthropy. Her December grants announcement came via her blog on Medium, where she began by reflecting on the isolation of 2020 and by quoting Emily Dickinson. After all, Scott is also an award-winning novelist. But in addition to wonderful prose, the self-reflection and understanding of her own privilege consistently emerge as a theme. In July’s blog of grant updates, Scott wrote, “I’m posting an update today because my own reflection after recent events revealed a privilege I’d been overlooking: the attention I can call to organizations and leaders driving change.”