Billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott revealed that she has donated nearly $4 billion to 465 nonprofits, according to a blog post Wednesday, confirming the gifts that the groups have been announcing on their own for months.
The announcement brings Scott’s publicly disclosed donations to more than $12 billion since 2019, including Tuesday’s announcement of a $436 million donation to Habitat for Humanity International and 84 of its affiliates to create affordable housing.
That donation is the largest publicly disclosed gift from Scott and her husband, Dan Jewett, so far. Scott’s donation amounts to nearly 8% of the $325 million in donations that Habitat for Humanity International received in its 2020 fiscal year.
According to a news release from South Puget Sound Habitat for Humanity, four Habitat affiliates in the Pacific Northwest will receive $15 million. Those affiliates are in Thurston, Pierce, King, Clallam and Kittitas counties.
In a region where the home affordability gap continues to widen — where, according to the National Association of Home Builders, 75% of residents are currently priced out of homeownership — the donation will “substantially further Habitat’s vision of a world where everyone has equitable access to a safe, decent and affordable place to call home,” the news release says.
The news release also contends that in Washington state, 1 in 7 households are cost-burdened by housing, paying more than 50% of their income for a home.
South Puget Sound CEO Carly Colgan said in the news release, “We are honored and humbled by this unprecedented donation to our organization. This investment will help us increase our capacity and sustainability while growing our commitment to providing climate resilient affordable housing solutions. Ultimately, we will be able to serve more families in Thurston County, changing lives and bettering our community.”
Also on Wednesday, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and 21 of its affiliates received its largest gift ever – $275 million – from Scott, who detailed the recipients of her $3,863,125,000 in donations, though not individual amounts.
Last week, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America announced that they and 62 local Boys & Girls Clubs had received $281 million from Scott.
“Our team’s focus over these last nine months has included some new areas, but as always our aim has been to support the needs of underrepresented people from groups of all kinds,” Scott wrote. “The cause of equity has no sides. Nor can it have a single solution.”
For that reason, she believes in “supporting people directly experiencing inequities is essential, both because it is informed by insights no one else can contribute, and because it seeds power and opportunity within the community itself.”
According to Scott, 60% of the groups she and Jewett donated to are led by women and 75% are led by “people with lived experience in the regions they support and the issues they seek to address.”
Scott, who declines interviews and only discusses her philanthropic choices through her blog posts, explained that she believes in a “diversity of voices” and that belief drives many of her decisions about announcing her giving. “It’s what underlies my approach to press inquiries – respecting the autonomy and role of journalists by doing nothing to try to influence or control what they report,” she wrote.
Scott, who is worth about $48 billion, according to Forbes, signed the Giving Pledge through which many billionaires have promised to donate more than half of their wealth.
Scott’s blog post touched off a wave of nonprofits announcing their plans for the donations.
HIAS, the international Jewish humanitarian organization, said Scott donated $10 million to its campaign to raise $40 million for its emergency response in Ukraine.
“HIAS has been working in independent Ukraine for over 20 years, working with Ukrainians and launching a Ukrainian-led organization (Right to Protection – R2P) to protect and welcome asylum seekers from other countries as well as displaced Ukrainians themselves,” Mark Hetfield, president and CEO of HIAS, said in a prepared statement.
Scott’s donations have exceeded $8 billion in the past two years after her divorce from Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder, who was then the richest person in the world. As part of the divorce settlement, Scott received 4% of Amazon’s shares.
In December, in hopes that she would reduce the attention she draws, Scott declined to announce how much or to whom she donated money. She said she would prefer to let the recipients announce her gifts.
The Olympian contributed to this report.