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Jeff Bezos’ ex-wife MacKenzie Scott donates $2.7 billion to 286 groups citing wealth gap

It is the third round of major philanthropic gifts MacKenzie Scott has made, which together rival the charitable contributions made by the largest foundations.

June 15, 2021 / 10:20 PM IST
(Image: Reuters)

(Image: Reuters)

Billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott reveals she's donated an additional $2.74 billion to 286 organisations stating the unfairness of American inequality as the reason.

“We are all attempting to give away a fortune that was enabled by systems in need of change,” Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' ex-wife wrote in a Medium post. “In this effort, we are governed by a humbling belief that it would be better if disproportionate wealth were not concentrated in a small number of hands, and that the solutions are best designed and implemented by others."

It is the third round of major philanthropic gifts Scott has made, which together rival the charitable contributions made by the largest foundations.

Through the post, Scott said that she is troubled by the increasing concentration of vast wealth among a small proportion of individuals. She worked with a team of researchers and philanthropy advisors “to give away a fortune that was enabled by systems in need of change.”

“In this effort,” she said, “we are governed by a humbling belief that it would be better if disproportionate wealth were not concentrated in a small number of hands and that the solutions are best designed and implemented by others.”

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In 2020, Scott made two similar surprise announcements in which she donated a combined $6 billion to COVID-19 relief, gender equity, historically Black colleges and universities and other schools. Similar to the organisations she picked as recipients last year, Scott said the 286 organisations chosen for Tuesday’s announcement were selected from a rigorous process of research and analysis. That effort included “equity-oriented” nonprofits working in long-neglected areas, reported Associated Press.

“Because we believe that teams with experience on the front lines of challenges will know best how to put the money to good use, we encouraged them to spend it however they choose,” she wrote.

The latest recipients range from universities to refugee resettlement groups to arts and culture organisations that have suffered from a drop in giving as donors focused on more urgent needs brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

The donations also went to nonprofits that focus on minority communities. The group Native Americans in Philanthropy, a recipient that connects philanthropic organisations to Native American-led nonprofits, said in a statement that the multi-million contribution will help them in their efforts to increase funding to tribal communities.

“MacKenzie Scott has recommitted to transformative work, the organisations that undertake it and the leaders whose ideas are often under-funded and overlooked,” Erik Stegman, the executive director of the group, said in a statement. “It is important to note that she has also just written cheques to these organisations, leaving her own interests to the side and giving up power to the organisations she’s funding.”

Scott’s concern about the enormous gap between the very wealthiest Americans and everyone else was underscored in a report last week from the nonprofit investigative journalism organisation ProPublica. It reported that the richest 25 Americans pay less in tax than many ordinary workers do, once you include taxes for Social Security and Medicare.

Drawing upon Internal Revenue Service data on the country’s wealthiest people, ProPublica reported that some of them have paid no income tax, or nearly none, in some years. Among them is Scott’s former husband, Bezos, who, according to ProPublica, paid no income tax in 2007 and 2011.

With inputs from Associated Press
Moneycontrol News
first published: Jun 15, 2021 10:20 pm

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