MacKenzie Scott, whose estimated fortune stands somewhere around $60 billion, announced via a Medium post today that she would be parting with a $2.7 billion portion of that wealth and distributing it to 286 groups, all of which are painstakingly named and linked at the end of her note.
This third and latest gift brings Scott’s total charitable contributions to society to around $8.5 billion in the past year alone — making her one of the planet’s most generous billionaires. The amount puts her well ahead of the lifetime gifts doled out by the likes of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg ($2.7 billion), Michael Dell of his eponymous computer corporation ($2.25 billion), Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer ($1.4 billion), or eBay’s Pierre Omidyar ($1.3 billion), according to Forbes.
Jeff Bezos, currently the world’s richest man, has rarely appeared on similar lists of the most charitable donors. He topped the list in 2020 by pledging $20 billion toward a climate change-focused fund named after himself but has, based on the most recent reports, distributed less than 4 percent of that amount.
Scott was married to Bezos from 1993 to 2019. She left the relationship with a significant portion of Amazon’s stock.
“We encouraged them to spend it however they choose”
Scott, who “likely set a record for the largest annual distribution by a living person” last year, according to Bloomberg, is also known for her no-strings-attached approach to donations. “We believe that teams with experience on the front lines of challenges will know best how to put the money to good use,” Scott, and her husband Dan Jewett, a science teacher, wrote, “we encouraged them to spend it however they choose.”
Like some other wealthy notables, Scott has signed onto the Giving Pledge, which — though not legally binding — is a public commitment for at least half of one’s wealth to be distributed to charity, either during their lifetime or at the time of their death. Though in Scott’s case, her more pressing issue might be figuring out how to give her riches away fast enough (while being thoughtful and responsible to divest it). “It would be better if disproportionate wealth were not concentrated in a small number of hands,” Scott wrote in her Medium post.
While Scott continues to invest in making the planet better for humans to live on, an increasing number of her peers seems intent to escape the place altogether.