MacKenzie Scott has donated more than $US4.1 billion ($5.6 billion) over the past four months to 384 organisations across the US that provide essential support to people suffering the worst effects of the current economic crisis.
Scott, a novelist and the ex-wife of Jeff Bezos, is the world’s 18th richest person and has seen her wealth climb by $US23.6 billion this year as Amazon.com Inc. has surged during the pandemic.
In a blog post on Tuesday, Scott outlined her latest contributions and acknowledged that her wealth has increased significantly this year. She said in July, she asked her advisors to help accelerate her donations to those who need it most.
“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,” she wrote.
“I asked a team of advisors to help me accelerate my 2020 giving through immediate support to people suffering the economic effects of the crisis.”
Across the 384 organisations she has donated to, Scott says some, like food banks, support services and emergency relief funds, are filling basic needs, while other are addressing long-term systemic inequities that have been deepened by the crisis. These organisations include debt relief, employment training, financial services for under resourced communities, education, civil rights advocacy groups and legal defence funds that take on institutional discrimination.
Scott says her team selected the organisations based on an extensive, data driven research process, as well as the perspectives of hundreds of field experts and non-profit leaders and volunteers. She said her donations have no strings attached.
“We do this research and deeper diligence not only to identify organizations with high potential for impact, but also to pave the way for unsolicited and unexpected gifts given with full trust and no strings attached,” she wrote.
“Because our research is data-driven and rigorous, our giving process can be human and soft.
“Not only are non-profits chronically underfunded, they are also chronically diverted from their work by fundraising, and by burdensome reporting requirements that donors often place on them.
“These 384 carefully selected teams have dedicated their lives to helping others, working and volunteering and serving real people face-to-face at bedsides and tables, in prisons and courtrooms and classrooms, on streets and hospital wards and hotlines and frontlines of all types and sizes, day after day after day. They 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’s donations come after she signed the Giving Pledge – a promise to give away at least half of her fortune to charitable organizations either during her lifetime or after she dies. Her ex-husband, Jeff Bezos, also of Amazon wealth, is currently the world’s richest person. To date, Bezos has not signed the Giving Pledge – something other billionaires like Bill and Melinda Gates have done.
In July this year, Scott announced she had already donated $US1.7 billion to 116 organisations, and in the same blog post, said she would had changed her surname from Bezos to Scott.