One of the richest people in the world, MacKenzie Scott, spent the end of 2020 donating around $ 1 billion a month, a staggering amount that places a high mark for tech billionaires in terms of speed.
Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, revealed on Tuesday that she had donated $ 4 billion in the past four months to just under 400 nonprofit groups. Over the past year, Scott has become one of the most generous philanthropists publicly, parting with $ 6 billion and raising her profile after her record-breaking divorce from Bezos, the richest person in the world.
Scott shared earlier this summer that she had changed her last name and had already donated $ 1.7 billion of her fortune – gifts that had already made her one of the world’s billionaires to give. his money the fastest, which even well-meaning billionaires have a hard time doing. . Many of the wealthiest in the tech industry, including those who are trying to become major philanthropists, have seen their fortunes only grow more and more in 2020.
Scott explicitly pointed out the dual reality in 2020 for billionaires and the rest of America as the pandemic ravages the country and particularly affects its lower income citizens. This kind of rhetoric is something billionaires often shy away from when they advertise their philanthropy.
“This pandemic has been a devastating burden on the lives of Americans already in difficulty. The economic losses and health outcomes have been worse for women, for people of color and for people living in poverty, ”she wrote in her Medium article. “During that time, it has dramatically increased the wealth of billionaires.”
Scott, a novelist who referred to Emily Dickinson in her announcement on Tuesday, played a pivotal role in Amazon’s early years but kept a low profile before her divorce from Bezos in 2019. Scott received $ 38 billion. dollars in this split, a war chest. which rose to over $ 60 billion as Amazon’s inventory skyrocketed over the next two years.
As this happened, Scott became more and more in the public eye. Her donations have made her an unwilling and even unlikely spokesperson for billionaires to give away their money in a rush, rather than storing their fortunes in private foundations or family offices or as bequests to their children. Just months after her divorce, Scott signed the Giving Pledge – the pledge to give at least half of her money – which she and her notoriously parsimonious husband had refused to make once married and which he did not still hasn’t done it himself. .
Scott pulled the curtain down on his donation strategy on Tuesday. Recode has already reported that it at least partially uses a donor-advised fund – a controversial vehicle that offers little transparency – and in collaboration with the consulting firm Bridgespan and its co-founder, Tom Tierney, to advise it.
Scott added that his team had considered donating to around 6,500 organizations before narrowing them down to 384 groups. After that, she said, they “get out of their way.”
“Not only are nonprofits chronically underfunded, but they are also chronically sidetracked from their work by fundraising and the onerous reporting requirements that donors often impose on them,” he said. she writes. She did things differently, telling nonprofits that she had chosen that “the entire commitment would be prepaid and left unrestricted in order to give them maximum flexibility.”
Scott did not disclose the amounts she donated to each nonprofit, but the list historically includes black colleges, food banks nationwide (a cause also prioritized by her ex-husband), and YMCAs.