Mackenzie Scott Donates $640 Million, More Than Double Her Planned Donations To Nonprofit Applicants

Billionaire philanthropist and author MacKenzie Scott made an exciting announcement on Tuesday. She revealed her plan to generously donate a staggering $640 million to a total of 361 small nonprofits. These organizations were specifically chosen because they had taken the initiative to apply in response to an open call for applications. Scott’s decision to support these deserving nonprofits will undoubtedly have a profound and positive impact on their respective communities.

Yield Giving has exceeded Scott’s initial pledge to donate through the application process, with its first round of donations totaling more than double the original amount. Since 2019, Scott and her team have been actively researching and selecting organizations to support, providing them with substantial and unrestricted gifts, even without requiring them to go through an application process.

On her website, Scott expressed her gratitude to Lever for Change, the organization responsible for managing the open call, as well as the evaluators, for their instrumental role in creating a pathway of support for individuals striving to enhance access to essential resources within their communities. She acknowledged their significance as catalysts for change.

Elisha Smith Arrillaga, the vice president at The Center for Effective Philanthropy, expressed her pleasant surprise regarding the increase in both the award amount and the number of organizations selected. She is curious to know more about the applicants’ experience with the process and whether Scott will continue using this approach in the future.

When the applications opened, a total of 6,353 nonprofits eagerly applied for the $1 million grants.

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Lever for Change, an organization that specializes in managing philanthropic prize awards, has announced that the donor team has made the decision to broaden the group of recipients and increase the amount of the awards.

A total of $2 million was awarded to 279 nonprofits that achieved top scores from an external review panel. Additionally, 82 organizations in a second tier were each granted $1 million.

According to Renee Karibi-Whyte, senior vice president of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, competitions like Scott’s open call can be beneficial for organizations that lack connections with a specific funder. This opportunity allows them to be considered for funding and support.

According to the speaker, prize philanthropy has a unique advantage in bringing attention to individuals, organizations, and institutions that may not have had access to influential figures and funding otherwise. She also mentioned that her organization offers guidance to funders who conduct competitive grants or philanthropic prize competitions. The advice includes phasing the application process to alleviate the burden on organizations that are eliminated early on.

According to Megan Peterson, the executive director of Gender Justice, a nonprofit organization based in Minnesota, the application presents a unique chance to grab Scott’s attention.

Peterson expressed their admiration for the work that the person had previously supported. They also mentioned that they wished the person was aware of their recent successes.

The organization she leads has recently achieved victories in legal battles regarding the accessibility of emergency contraception and the rights of transgender youth to participate in sports. With the newly acquired funds, they aim to extend their efforts to North Dakota. Peterson emphasized that the funds must be utilized for tax-exempt purposes, but otherwise, there are no limitations or obligations for reporting, similar to the previous grants provided by Scott.

Peterson expressed his admiration for Scott’s approach to philanthropy, stating that she is paving the way for a new path in the field. He commended her philosophy of identifying individuals who are making a positive impact and providing them with the necessary resources, allowing them to thrive. Peterson also acknowledged the broader influence of Scott’s approach, recognizing the transformative effect it is having on philanthropy as a whole. He expressed gratitude for both the personal support he received and the significant impact Scott is making in the field.

Yield Giving, in its open call, requested applications from community-led nonprofits that aim to empower individuals and families with limited financial resources. According to the organization’s website, only nonprofits with annual budgets ranging from $1 million to $5 million were eligible to apply.

The selection process for the awardees involved multiple steps. Firstly, applicants had the opportunity to score their fellow applicants. Following this, a panel of external experts thoroughly reviewed the top organizations. Through this rigorous evaluation, the final awardees were chosen.

Scott has generously donated a staggering $16.5 billion from the immense fortune she acquired following her divorce from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. At first, she shared details of her philanthropic endeavors through online blog posts, occasionally revealing the names of the organizations she supported. However, in December 2022, she took her giving to the next level by launching Yield Giving, a comprehensive database chronicling her charitable contributions.

Reflecting on the website, she expressed in her essay, “I have found the information provided by other people – fellow givers, my team, and the nonprofit teams I support – to be incredibly valuable. If sharing more details about these gifts can be beneficial to others, I am eager to do so.”

According to Smith Arrillaga, from CEP, it is crucial to acknowledge that Scott is persistently upholding her dedication to distribute her wealth, even though she is contemplating, adjusting, and refining the approach of how it is accomplished. She remains committed to the essence of her initial commitment.

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