MacKenzie Scott keeps donations secret in latest giving spree

SEATTLE (BLOOMBERG) – MacKenzie Scott has upended philanthropy in the past year by announcing three separate donation sprees totalling US$8.6 billion (S$11.7 billion), among the biggest giveaways in history, and providing the names of each recipient.

This time, she’s changing course.

“I’m not including here any amounts of money I’ve donated since my prior posts,” Ms Scott said on Wednesday (Dec 8) in her latest Medium blog post that was long on reflection and short on details. “I want to let each of these incredible teams speak for themselves first if they choose to.”

The former wife of founder Jeff Bezos has typically used the Internet site to share information on the hundreds of organisations that received gifts as well as the total amount donated since her last announcement.

Some details of the latest spree have emerged. Ms Scott gave a US$12 million grant to Global Citizen Year, which announced their gift in October. Another, Public Allies, announced receiving US$10 million in early December. They were told that they could share the news after Ms Scott published her blog post or after a certain period of time from when they received the gift, a spokesman from Public Allies said.

Ms Scott, who is worth about US$60 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ms Scott, 51, has shook up the philanthropy world with the pace and magnitude of her giving. She has only given the public glimpses into the thinking driving her decisions, typically sharing little more than a list of the lucky organisations in her Medium posts.

In her previous three announcements, her focus has primarily been on propping up needy individuals and the nonprofit industry itself through donations to organisations that didn’t see it coming.

Before Wednesday’s announcement, more than US$1.6 billion of Ms Scott’s US$8.6 billion in gifts have gone to education nonprofits, colleges and universities, with historically Black institutions, two year colleges and Hispanic Serving Institutions fielding most of the contributions.

Social assistance organisations, including Goodwill and YMCA, got about US$1 billion, and another US$1.2 billion went to nonprofits that focus on the business of fundraising, advocacy and philanthropy itself, including the Bridgespan Group, which Ms Scott works with to pick and vet organisations.

Ms Scott signed the Giving Pledge, a non-binding promise to donate the majority of her fortune in her lifetime soon after divorcing Mr Bezos, the world’s second-richest with a fortune of more than US$200 billion.

Ms Scott ended up with a quarter of the ex-couple’s shares following the divorce.

Mr Bezos, who recently went to space for the first time, has picked up his philanthropy since stepping down as Amazon CEO.

This year, he’s given more than US$1 billion in gifts, including a pair of US$200 million gifts in July and a US$100 million donation to the Obama Foundation, as well as the latest rounds of giving tied to his multibillion dollar pledges to fight family homelessness and climate change.

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