MacKenzie Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, is giving away her fortune at an unprecedented pace, donating more than US$4 billion in four months after announcing US$ 1,7bn in gifts in July.
The world’s 18th-richest person outlined the latest contributions in a blog post on Tuesday, saying she asked her team to figure out how to give away her fortune faster.
Scott’s wealth has climbed US$23.6 billion this year to US$60.7 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, as Amazon.com, the primary source of her fortune has surged.
“This pandemic has been a wrecking ball in the lives of Americans already struggling,” she wrote in the post on Medium.
“Economic losses and health outcomes alike have been worse for women, for people of color and for people living in poverty. Meanwhile, it has substantially increased the wealth of billionaires.”
Scott’s gifts this year approach US$6 billion, which “has to be one of the biggest annual distributions by a living individual” to working charities, according to Melissa Berman, chief executive officer of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.
Berman said Scott’s donations show that it is possible to give large amounts quickly without requiring nonprofits to “jump through a lot of hoops to get the money.”
The size of Scott’s gifts also disprove a common theory that it’s hard to deploy vast amounts of money without running into trouble or proving wasteful.
Scott’s advisers zeroed-in on 384 groups to receive gifts, she said in the post, after considering almost 6,500 organizations. Donations were focused on those “operating in communities facing high projected food insecurity, high measures of racial inequity, high local poverty rates, and low access to philanthropic capital.”
Recipients include more than 30 institutions of higher education, including several tribal colleges and historically black colleges and universities. More than 40 food banks received money, as did almost four dozen local affiliates of Goodwill Industries International.
Scott listed the names of the groups that received the money, just as she did for the 116 organizations in her July letter. In her announcement this summer, Scott said she decided to make the gifts public in part to call attention to “organizations and leaders driving change.”
Scott, 50, who was formerly married to Amazon chief executive officer Jeff Bezos, signed the Giving Pledge in 2019, promising to give away the majority of her fortune.
“I have a disproportionate amount of money to share,” she wrote in her pledge. “My approach to philanthropy will continue to be thoughtful. It will take time and effort and care. But I won’t wait. And I will keep at it until the safe is empty.”