The Girl Scouts are getting almost $85 million in a donation from MacKenzie Scott, their largest ever donation from an individual.
The Girl Scouts of the USA have been in a downturn since the pandemic, according to Sofia Chang, the organization’s current CEO. Membership has suffered almost 30 percent since 2020, which had a serious impact on the reach of the organization. The 110-year organization is more than just kids meeting in high school gyms and selling cookies. They sponsor scholarships, work with schools to improve STEM education, and promote young women to become educators themselves.
Scott’s donation will go in part to Girl Scouts of the USA and in part to 29 specific local branches, where it will help revitalize local troops, begin new ones, and give Girl Scouts in less advantaged areas the same access to opportunities as others.
Local Girl Scout councils often report difficulty finding local funding for special projects. According to Kristen Garcia-Hernandez, CEO of the Southern Arizona Girl Scout Council, many of those she approaches for funding assume that she’s rolling in Girl Scout cookie money.
“While the cookie program sustains us certainly and it’s wonderful and the girls are part of that process, which makes it even more beautiful, we certainly need more from the community,” Garcia-Hernandez said. Her council is going to use the $1.4 million share of Scott’s donation to hire enough staff to offer programming year-round, and outfit a van to be a mobile STEM classroom, which has been a long-term project of theirs.
Organizations that specifically serve women and girls receive only a tiny sliver of philanthropic giving, according to a research project from Indiana University. Less than 2 percent, a number which hasn’t changed in at least a decade.
MacKenzie Scott has been donating money in many directions, mostly without comment. Since her 2019 divorce from billionaire Jeff Bezos, she has donated over $12 billion. Earlier this year she donated $275 million to Planned Parenthood.