MacKenzie Scott (MacKenzie Scott) continues to seek to donate most of his wealth to philanthropy.
According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, 17 nonprofits have announced so far this year that they have received unlimited donations through Scott’s proceeds endowment fund. Donations totaled $97 million, ranging from $1 million to $15 million. Nearly half of the funds go to charities focused on early childhood education and early childhood development. Since 2020, Scott has given over $14.1 billion to at least 1,621 charities.
In an effort to encourage people to focus on the charity instead of her, Scott stopped announcing her donations as she has done in the past. Now, she lets the charity decide whether to make her gifts public. Given the size of her giving in previous years, it’s likely that the 17 announced donations represent only a fraction of her actual giving so far this year.
Charity leaders said they appreciated Scott’s decision to give nonprofits the choice of whether to disclose the gifts because it allows them to decide what is best for the organization.
“Voice of Confidence”
“It is in our best interest to announce this donation and share the victory with our colleagues in the movement,” said Sean McCarthy, Donor Relations Management at the National Housing Trust. Last month, the affordable housing group received a $10 million donation from Scott, its largest donation to date. “We view this gift as a vote of confidence.”
Still, there are pros and cons to consider. Trust officials wanted to announce the gift to demonstrate the confidence that a high-profile philanthropist like Scott has in the trust’s mission and its ability to manage an endowment of this magnitude.
They also discussed potential downsides of making this donation public, such as fears that other donors would perceive Scott’s gift as giving the trust everything it needed to fulfill its mission.
“The reality is that this is a very big problem that we are trying to solve. There is a shortage of over 7 million affordable housing units in the U.S. alone, so when we decided to release this we wanted to make sure we weren’t sharing the All the resources needed to accomplish the mission,” McCarthy said. “We still need support from various sources.”
Patricia Lozano, executive director of Early Edge California, an early childhood education advocacy group, wanted to publicize the $3 million in donations the organization received this summer for similar reasons.
“Recognition of Early Edge is a triumph and the first time in our history that we have received a gift of this magnitude,” Lozano said. “It’s an acknowledgment of our work and all of our successes. Our work revolves very specifically around advocacy, so we thought it would be a good thing for us to show our funders and potential partners that we are trustworthy and recognized. Good thing.”
Scott launched the Yield Giving website in December in response to nonprofit calls for more transparency. The site lists the groups who received gifts and, in some cases, the amounts they received. But it hasn’t been updated since last year, so it’s unclear exactly how many gifts she gave this year. That has the philanthropic world wondering what to do with Scott’s latest donation.
“Philanthropy as a whole would benefit from more information about the organizations that receive grants and why they receive them,” said Joanne Florino, a Philanthropy Roundtable officer who advises donors and foundations. Joanne Florino) said.
Should wealthy philanthropists have privacy?
Katherina Rosqueta, who directs the Center for High-Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania, said debates about transparency and privacy in the philanthropic world are nothing new.
Some wealthy donors donate anonymously because they want privacy and, like Scott, want people to focus on the work of the nonprofits they support. Others are willing to give up some privacy knowing that having their name attached to a large donation will encourage their peers to support the charity. Roskata said Scott’s case is unique because the size of her fortune, currently estimated at about $37 billion, was created by her holdings in Amazon, the most high-profile company in the world one.
“There have always been wealthy individuals who have chosen to remain silent about giving, opting to give unlimited gifts to recipients who have trusted organizations,” Roskata said. Tet’s contribution may be the most high-profile release, and because of the level of wealth she possesses, she is able to contribute at a scale and speed that would be unattainable by those taking the same approach.”
Roskata said Scott is just one of many high-profile philanthropists who have tried over the years to turn their attention to the organizations they support. While Scott’s attempts to divert attention didn’t work, they sparked a healthy debate about where attention should be directed, Roskata said.
“If you look at the media, if you look at the institutions, the focus has always been on the wealthy, and has always been,” Roskata said. “It shouldn’t be surprising that people would be concerned or uncomfortable that a rich, high-profile person would deliberately oppose this, because that’s just not the way it is.”
In March, Scott announced a public offering of $250 million to community-focused charities, applied for grants from Yield Giving, and plans to donate $1 million each to 250 charities. Previously, Scott had only donated to organizations she and her advisors selected and researched; the move marks the first time Scott has given nonprofits the opportunity to apply for grants. More than 6,000 nonprofits have applied, and winners will be announced early next year.
Rosketa and Florino say the open solicitation shows Scott is expanding her giving practice, but Florino is concerned about the length of the funding process.
“It seems like something nonprofits are complaining about, the one-year time between submitting an application and receiving funding,” Florino said. “I’m not criticizing it. I’m just saying it’s a really big change and I’d love to learn more about why certain organizations were chosen and what kind of promise they saw in them.”
This article was provided to The Associated Press by The Chronicle of Philanthropy. Maria Dimento is a senior reporter for The Chronicle. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The Associated Press and the Chronicle receive support from the Lilly Endowment for their reporting on philanthropy and nonprofits. The Associated Press and The Chronicle are solely responsible for all content.For all of AP’s philanthropy coverage, visit