In last year MacKenzie Scott, then still under the name MacKenzie Bezos, joined the “Giving Pledge”. This is an initiative launched by multi-billionaires Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett, whose signatories promise to spend more than half of their wealth on charity. A few weeks earlier, Scott had agreed on terms for her divorce with her long-time husband Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of the online retailer Amazon.com. Accordingly, she should receive a quarter of the Amazon shares that the couple had previously held together, which catapulted them into various lists of the super-rich in one fell swoop, separated from their former husband.
“I have a disproportionate amount of money to share,” she wrote when announcing her participation in the Giving Pledge. She promised to donate “until the safe is empty”. And she indicated what approach she would take as a benefactor. She conjured up the value of swift trading and drew a parallel to the world of literature, which she is familiar with as the author of two novels. As you read once, when writing, the best ideas shouldn’t be saved for later chapters, but should be used immediately.
In fact, Scott is now setting a furious pace when it comes to donations. She recently announced that she had given nearly $ 4.2 billion to charities over the past four months. And this came after she publicized $ 1.7 billion in donations back in July. Your total charitable commitment this year adds up to almost six billion dollars. That is a staggering amount in the world of philanthropy. Not even the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest private foundation in the world, is spending that much money in such a short time. The couple donated $ 5.1 billion of their roughly $ 50 billion foundation assets last year.
But it’s not just the huge sums of money that make Scott’s benefits special. It also differs from many other grand donors in terms of its philosophy. Your donations come unsolicited and many of your recipients are completely unprepared. They are also not tied to any specifications, and Scott does not ask for their name to be immortalized on buildings in return. The reactions are accordingly. “It’s like a Christmas miracle,” said the stunned boss of a Scott-donated YMCA branch in Idaho to a local radio station. The New York Times wrote that some of the e-mails in which Scott’s representatives announced donations had only ended up in the organizations’ spam folders. Some recipients would have sensed a possible dizziness first. For many groups, Scott’s donation was the largest in their history.
Scott consciously chose this simple and unconventional way of giving. As she said in the announcement of her recent donations, the chronic financial straits for many nonprofits are a constant distraction from their actual work. They spend a lot of time soliciting funds, and donors often expect detailed reports of what is happening and being achieved with their money.