Food banks, immigrant rights groups, and struggling colleges across the U.S. discovered a surprising benefactor last year when billions of dollars were poured into organizations injured during the pandemic of MacKenzie Scott, ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
Scott unlocked a staggering nearly $ 6 billion in charity donations last year and unlike many other large donors, it did not set any restrictions or even naming rights.
The approach has shaken the philanthropic world not only by the magnitude of its gifts but also without the boundaries and accounting requirements of many large foundations or donors.
Laura MacDonald, chairman of the board of directors of the Giving USA Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to philanthropic giving, said Scott’s approach is part of a “trust-based philanthropy” movement that removes some of the red tape from many donors.
According to MacDonald, Scott’s approach went beyond the “big brother” approach of some donors and the venture capital mindset that pervades much of the business world.
“Trust-Based Philanthropy has catapulted itself to the top of the list of items in the philanthropic world because of Scott’s initiative,” said MacDonald.
“This can encourage other donors to try something and take more risks.”
In December, Scott’s most recent funding round included 384 organizations ranging from Blackfeet Community College in Montana to the Arkansas Food Bank to the Immigrant Families Fund.
“This pandemic has been a wrecking ball in the lives of Americans who have already struggled,” Scott wrote in a blog post.
“Economic losses and health outcomes have been worse for women, people of color, and people living in poverty alike. Meanwhile, this has increased the wealth of billionaires significantly.”
– Lots to celebrate –
Philanthropy activists say Scott’s actions are likely to get the attention of other billionaires – including their ex-husband.
“There’s a lot to celebrate about their philanthropy,” said Phil Buchanan, president of the Center for Effective Philanthropy, which provides research data to foundations and other nonprofit donors.
“I would hope that the sheer amount of money she gets out the door, and her intention to continue to do so, is a kick in the pants for anyone who is sitting on tremendous wealth in times of incredible challenge and hardship.”
Scott, whose Amazon stake in her divorce settlement is valued at around $ 58 billion, pledged to give away most of her fortune to help tackle social inequality.
It announced roughly $ 1.7 billion in grants last July and another $ 4.2 billion in December.
She hired a team of advisors to identify organizations to help those suffering the economic fallout from the pandemic, and focused on those working to fight hunger, poverty and racial inequality.
While her ex-husband Bezos donated $ 10 billion to tackling climate change – the biggest charity gift of 2020 – and additional funds for other causes, his donation has been slower and proportionally smaller as his fortune is worth more than three times as much is yours.
The former couple could give a big boost to philanthropy in the United States, the equivalent of roughly $ 450 billion in donations from Americans in 2019.
– speed and scaling –
Benjamin Soskis, senior research fellow at the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute, said Scott’s actions were remarkable not only for their size, but also for the speed at which the funds were delivered.
“The pandemic has increased the need to get money out the door as quickly as possible,” Soskis said.
Additionally, Scott has broken much of the philanthropic tradition by removing onerous restrictions and restrictions, which can make matters more difficult for organizations dealing with the pandemic.
“She insisted on giving money and getting out of the way,” said Soskis.
“Philanthropists often see themselves as part of the process, with multiple reviews and ratings and metrics that can be really stressful.”
One possible criticism of Scott’s approach is her “opaque” process of selecting fellows, Soskis said.
“She works in an area of absolute discretion that is not accountable to anyone,” he said.
Still, Soskis said her actions set an important precedent that could be a positive force for philanthropy.
“We shouldn’t underestimate the role MacKenzie Scott is playing in setting a new norm for philanthropic giving,” said Soskis.
“Every great philanthropist must set herself the example she has set.”
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and posted from a syndicated feed.)