In her second move as a billionaire philanthropist, MacKenzie Scott (formerly Bezos) has announced $4.2 billion in gifts to 384 organizations, mostly unrestricted grants to front-line charities addressing the needs of low-income people during the pandemic.
Writing in a post on Medium, Scott described her motivation. “The pandemic has been a wrecking ball in the lives of Americans already struggling. Economic losses and health outcomes alike have been worse for women, people of color, and for people living in poverty. Meanwhile, it substantially increased the wealth of billionaires.”
The bulk of these gifts are to the works of mercy during this pandemic –food banks, direct social service organizations, emergency funds, and support services for the most vulnerable.
Scott’s current net worth, according to Forbes is $59 billion, making her the 19th wealthiest billionaire in the U.S. She still has a long way to go in her stated intention of giving away all the wealth. But she’s now made two bold moves, putting to shame the other 650 U.S. billionaires who haven’t figured out comparable ways to share boldly.
During a pandemic when US billionaire wealth has increased $1 trillion since March, other billionaires should draw inspiration from her approach to move funds to urgent needs, to historically marginalized groups, to share decision-making with non-wealthy people, and to avoid warehousing funds in private legacy foundations.
Many private foundations are still guarding their perpetual endowments and giving the minimum 5 percent required, including overhead. By example, Scott is shaming these mega-foundations that worry more about perpetuity than the suffering of their neighbors during an unprecedented crisis.