MacKenzie Scott has become a game-changer for charities across the country.

Scott, an award-winning novelist, helped found Amazon with Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, in 1994. They were married for 25 years before their divorce in 2019. As part of that settlement, Scott received $35 billion and a 4% stake in the online retail giant, reported to be worth $35.6 billion on its own. Not long after the divorce was finalized, Scott signed the Giving Pledge, a commitment to give half her assets, or at least $17 billion, to charity over her lifetime or in her will.

From this Cincinnati Business Courier article

Over the past four months, she’s donated greater than $4 billion to 384 organizations across all 50 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico. In Cincinnati, several non-profits recently received record-setting donations from Ms. Scott. The United Way of Greater Cincinnati got $25 million, when a typical major gift is around $1 million.

“This validates United Way’s direction and hard work, and it comes at a great time,” Moira Weir, president and CEO of United Way, said in a release. “[The year] 2020 provided a fresh perspective on inequities in our community. Many took stock in the privilege and benefits they enjoy and pledged to change systems to advance equity. United Way now has the opportunity to capitalize on that momentum.” 

From the Cincinnati Business Courier article cited above.

And MacKenzie Scott isn’t just tossing around money willy-nilly. Unlike some other folks…

From this WaPo article

MacKenzie Scott and her team used data to determine the places where her donations were most needed AND could make the most impact.

I asked a team of advisors to help me accelerate my 2020 giving through immediate support to people suffering the economic effects of the crisis. They took a data-driven approach to identifying organizations with strong leadership teams and results, with special attention to those operating in communities facing high projected food insecurity, high measures of racial inequity, high local poverty rates, and low access to philanthropic capital.

MacKenzie Scott, in this Medium post

These contributions are game-changers. Actually, they’re life-changers.

These 384 carefully selected teams have dedicated their lives to helping others, working and volunteering and serving real people face-to-face at bedsides and tables, in prisons and courtrooms and classrooms, on streets and hospital wards and hotlines and frontlines of all types and sizes, day after day after day. They help by delivering vital services, and also through the profound encouragement felt each time a person is seen, valued, and trusted by another human being. This kind of encouragement has a special power when it comes from a stranger, and it works its magic on everyone.

From the Medium post cited above

Please read Ms. Scott’s Medium post in its entirety. It’s both eye-opening and heart-warming.

You and I probably don’t have $4 billion to donate to charity. (I checked under my couch cushions… nothing but stale Cheetos.) But if you’ve managed to ride out the pandemic and remain gainfully employed, you’re a lot better off than millions of Americans. We might not have MacKenzie Scott’s checkbook, but we certainly can take a page from her playbook:

If you’re craving a way to use your time, voice, or money to help others at the end of this difficult year, I highly recommend a gift to one of the thousands of organizations doing remarkable work all across the country. Every one of them could benefit from more resources to share with the communities they’re serving. And the hope you feed with your gift is likely to feed your own.

MacKenzie Scott