Who gives away $14 billion USD with equal amounts of both glee and purpose? MacKenzie Scott, that’s who. Through the end of 2022, the novelist and philanthropist has provided grants to some 1600+ nonprofits and earlier this year, announced another $250 million in grants through her organization, Yield Giving, to 250 nonprofits via an “open call” process that will provide $1 million USD to each lucky grantee and wholly unrestricted.
The year began with Scott finalizing a divorce to her second husband, Dan Jewett – which unlike the dissolution of her first marriage to Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos – appeared amicable. Still, as Scott paves her own way as one of the most powerful philanthropists in the United States, nearly every media headline about her grant making prowess includes “Ex-Wife of Jeff Bezos” mentions. Enough already.
Scott has almost single handedly upended the way that wealthy white philanthropists invest (or should invest) their grant making dollars – few stipulations, minimal reporting, trust in the grantee to get the work done, and first and foremost, self-interest and any semblance of vanity nearly nonexistent. Others should take note.
A signer to The Giving Pledge, a public declaration to give away most of her fortune during her lifetime, Scott has been dogged in her pursuit. She wrote in 2019, “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. 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.”
Nine profound words are worth repeating: I have a disproportionate amount of money to share. “Disproportionate” means “too large in comparison to others” so she is recognizing, in a valuative way, that she has more than her share. And “to share” is another moral statement that indicates her wealth is not to be hoarded or spent on vanity projects, but rather to be “shared” with those doing the real work. A refreshing and humble perspective.
Scott’s incredible and laudable grant making efforts can be found at yieldgiving.com