Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott is making her third multi-billion-dollar donation to charity in two years.
In 2019, Scott divorced Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, at the time the wealthiest man in the world. In the amicable parting, Scott wound up owning 4 percent of Amazon and nearly $40 billion, a fortune which will continue to make her money for the rest of her life. Almost immediately after the divorce, Scott signed the Gates’s Giving Pledge, an unenforced commitment to donate a majority of their wealth in their lifetimes.
In 2020, Scott donated over $6 billion in two surprise bursts, spreading the money among hundreds of grass-roots organizations. The dollars went to funding COVID-19 relief for arts groups, small businesses, and charity organizations; to gender equity efforts; and to historically Black colleges and universities and other underserved schools.
On Tuesday, June 15, Scott and her new husband, Dan Jewett, announced another flood of donations totaling approximately $2.7 billion among 286 organizations.
“Because community-centered service is such a powerful catalyst and multiplier,” Scott wrote, “we spent the first quarter of 2021 identifying and evaluating equity-oriented non-profit teams working in areas that have been neglected. The result was $2,739,000,000 in gifts to 286 high-impact organizations in categories and communities that have been historically underfunded and overlooked.”
The “high-impact organizations” include more secondary schools with primarily minority students, organizations promoting interfaith support, and art and cultural institutions in low-income areas. The donations were made with no strings attached.
“Because we believe that teams with experience on the front lines of challenges will know best how to put the money to good use, we encouraged them to spend it however they choose,” MacKenzie Scott wrote.
Scott closed her statement, which critiqued the very existence of wealth like hers, by quoting Jalāl ad-Dīn Mohammad Rūmī, a 13th-century Persian poet and Islamic theologian.
A candle as it diminishes explains,
Gathering more and more is not the way.
Burn, become light and heat and help. Melt.