MacKenzie Scott donates $640 million, more than doubling her planned gifts – State of the Union

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Billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott announced she is giving $640 million to 361 small nonprofits through an open application process managed by Lever for Change, more than doubling her initial pledge.

The grants ranged from $1-2 million for organizations with budgets between $1-5 million that support underserved communities.

This represents a shift to a more transparent process from Scott’s previous unsolicited gifts.

Over 6,000 nonprofits applied and were evaluated by applicants and an external panel.

The increased funding and number of grantees was an unexpected positive outcome.

Experts say prize-based competitions can help overlooked groups access funding.

“One of the best things about prize philanthropy is that it surfaces people and organizations and institutions that otherwise wouldn’t have access to the people in the power centers and the funding,” Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors senior vice president Renee Karibi-Whyte said.

Recipients praised Scott’s model of giving unrestricted funds and then not imposing requirements, aiming to have broad impact on philanthropy.

“Having seen the types of work that she has supported in the past, we did feel like, ‘Oh, if only she knew that we were out here racking up wins,’” said Gender Justice executive director Megan Peterson.

“I think she’s really helping to set a new path for philanthropy broadly, which is with that philosophy of: Find people doing good work and give them resources and then get out of the way,” Peterson said. “I am grateful for not just the support individually, but the way in which I think she is having an impact on philanthropy broadly.”

“Information from other people – other givers, my team, the nonprofit teams I’ve been giving to – has been enormously helpful to me. If more information about these gifts can be helpful to anyone, I want to share it,” Scott wrote.

Scott is “continuing to honor her commitment in terms of giving away her wealth, even though she’s thinking, changing and tweaking the ‘how’ of how it’s done and she’s still trying to go with the spirit of what she committed to,” Smith Arrillaga of CEP stated.

Scott has given over $16 billion since 2019 to advance equity and opportunity.

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