MacKenzie Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos, said in a blog post that she has given away $ 4.2 billion of her fortune in the past four months. Scott said she accelerated her charity plans because of the “wrecking ball” of the pandemic, which she says has also “significantly increased the wealth of billionaires.”
Scott is one of those billionaires whose fortunes have soared since the pandemic paralyzed the US for the first time in March. Her net worth is now estimated at more than $ 60 billion, a boost of nearly $ 24 billion since the start of the year, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Her wealth is largely tied to Amazon.com’s fortune, whose share is up 67% this year as more consumers shopped online due to the pandemic. Scott’s charities follow close behind signing the Giving Pledge, a philanthropic campaign founded in May 2019 by celebrated investor Warren Buffett, in which she pledged to donate most of her wealth to philanthropic causes over her lifetime.
On December 15, Scott announced her recent flurry of charitable gifts in a Medium post, writing that she was inspired by local efforts to help those in need, such as community fridges and “ makeshift Venmo person-to-person gifts. ” . Scott said she started by looking at 6,490 organizations, then narrowed her list to 384 organizations with “high potential for impact.”
Many of those organizations, such as food banks, provide for basic needs, while others focus on what Scott called “long-term systemic inequalities” exacerbated by the crisis.
“We shared all our donation decisions with the program leaders over the phone for the first time, and we welcomed them to spend the funding on what they think will best serve their efforts,” she wrote. “The responses from people who took the calls often included personal stories and tears.”
“Works of Mercy”
Scott’s approach to charity donations is remarkable – and not just for the size of the gifts, said Chuck Collins, the director of the charity reform initiative at the Institute for Policy Studies. Heir to Oscar Mayer’s food empire, Collins himself gave away much of his wealth.
“Scott, a newcomer to billionaire wealth, has surrounded himself with advisors who come from low-resource communities, not the people who typically sit on foundation boards,” Collins said in an emailed statement.
He added, “As a result, most of these donations are for the works of mercy during this pandemic – food banks, direct social service organizations, emergency funds and support services for the most vulnerable.”
It’s not the first time Scott has given away some of her wealth. In July she said she had donated $ 1.7 billion of her personal fortune to charity. Those gifts were aimed at organizations committed to racial and gender equality, economic mobility, public health, climate change and more.