MacKenzie Scott wants you to know that her platform and wealth is the least interesting thing about her recent donation. In her third round of giving, Scott donated $2.7 billion to 286 “high-impact” organizations, many of which are in historically underrepresented communities.
Making good on her pledge to distribute the majority of her wealth “until the safe is empty,” Scott announced the latest round of giving in a Medium post entitled “Seeding by Ceding.” Explaining her thought process for the donations, Scott also emphasized the importance of simply giving without strings attached
”Putting large donors at the center of stories on social progress is a distortion of their role,” wrote Scott. “Me, Dan, a constellation of researchers and administrators and advisors — we are all attempting to give away a fortune that was enabled by systems in need of change.”
Recipients range from cultural institutions like the Apollo Theater and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater to social change organizations like Faith In Action and Alternate Roots.
“This gift is transformative for Faith in Action. We have toiled for 50 years, planting seeds,” said Rev. Alvin Herring, executive director of Faith in Action, in a statement. “We are grateful to Ms. Scott for investing in organizations led by people directly impacted by the issues we care so deeply about. And we are proud of our colleagues in the movement whose tireless work is being recognized.”
Philanthropy groups like Borealis Philanthropy and the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity are also among recipients. A major plus of Scott’s giving is the break from traditional requirements around how funds are spent. The added “flexibility” allows organizations space to vision and plan instead of rushing to complete a project for the sake of funding and reporting.
But as Megan Ming Francis pointed out in a brief Twitter thread, some of Scott’s giving is at odds with her express purpose. Notably, The Bridgespan Group is Scott’s consultant and a recipient of the latest round of giving.
Francis acknowledged the importance of unrestricted giving, but the perceived conflict of interest points to something critics of philanthropy have around transparency in the selection process. While Scott has not provided the specific metrics, her posts offer some insight into considerations made during the process.
In her December announcement, Scott noted that several hundred organizations were placed on hold due to several considerations, including reported treatment of staff or community members. Other considerations included subjective criteria such as “unproven management teams” and “insufficient evidence of impact.”
Donating about $8.5 Billion since July, Scott said persisting wealth inequality drives her donations. In her first round of giving, Scott donated an estimated $586,700,000 for racial equity work specifically.
Scott gained notoriety in her public divorce from billionaire Jeff Bezos. She is reportedly worth an estimated $60 Billion and retains a 4% interest in Amazon.
NBC News reported prior donations during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic included money for money to colleges and universities such as HBCUs and organizations addressing gender equity.