MacKenzie Scott, Jeff Bezos’s ex, has given away over 4 billion the past few months

Axel Springer award ceremony
MacKenzie Scott, 50, split from Amazon head Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world, in the fall of 2018 around the time of his affair with Lauren Sanchez. We heard some of the sordid details in early 2019. As part of their divorce settlement in April, 2019, MacKenzie received around $36 billion, much of it in Amazon stock. MacKenzie has signed the Giving Pledge, vowing to give away at least half of her fortune to charity, although it’s likely she’ll give away almost all of it. This summer she donated $1.7 a whopping billion to 117 charities. MacKenzie has just announced that she’s given an additional $4.2 billion to 384 organizations. She had the help of a team to figure out where the money could make the most difference. We know about this as she wrote a powerful essay for Medium describing the process. The part that got me choked up is when she wrote about grateful recipients crying and sharing their personal stories about their work. She’s put a lot of thought and work into these issues. Her immense wealth is going to make a difference to so many people:

After my post in July, 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.

The result over the last four months has been $4,158,500,000 in gifts to 384 organizations across all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington D.C. Some are filling basic needs: food banks, emergency relief funds, and support services for those most vulnerable. Others are addressing long-term systemic inequities that have been deepened by the crisis: debt relief, employment training, credit and financial services for under-resourced communities, education for historically marginalized and underserved people, civil rights advocacy groups, and legal defense funds that take on institutional discrimination.

To select these 384, the team sought suggestions and perspective from hundreds of field experts, funders, and non-profit leaders and volunteers with decades of experience. We leveraged this collective knowledge base in a collaboration that included hundreds of emails and phone interviews, and thousands of pages of data analysis on community needs, program outcomes, and each non-profit’s capacity to absorb and make effective use of funding. We looked at 6,490 organizations, and undertook deeper research into 822. We put 438 of these on hold for now due to insufficient evidence of impact, unproven management teams, or to allow for further inquiry about specific issues such as treatment of community members or employees. We won’t always learn about a concern inside an organization, but when we do, we’ll take extra time to evaluate. We’ll never eliminate every risk through our analysis, but we’ll eliminate many. Then we can select organizations to assist — and get out of their way.

We do this research and deeper diligence not only to identify organizations with high potential for impact, but also to pave the way for unsolicited and unexpected gifts given with full trust and no strings attached. Because our research is data-driven and rigorous, our giving process can be human and soft. Not only are non-profits chronically underfunded, they are also chronically diverted from their work by fundraising, and by burdensome reporting requirements that donors often place on them. 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. We shared each of our gift decisions with program leaders for the first time over the phone, and welcomed them to spend the funding on whatever they believe best serves their efforts. They were told that the entire commitment would be paid upfront and left unrestricted in order to provide them with maximum flexibility. The responses from people who took the calls often included personal stories and tears. These were non-profit veterans from all backgrounds and backstories, talking to us from cars and cabins and COVID-packed houses all over the country — a retired army general, the president of a tribal college recalling her first teaching job on her reservation, a loan fund founder sitting in the makeshift workspace between her washer and dryer from which she had launched her initiative years ago. Their stories and tears invariably made me and my teammates cry.

[From Medium]

This was quite moving and you can tell she’s a writer. I love that they gave away the money without any stipulations for the charities. MacKenzie also linked the charities at the bottom of her post so readers can learn more and help. What an incredible person she is. As painful as it must have been to go through a divorce and to split her family up (she and Jeff have four children, three sons and a daughter), she’s changed countless lives with her charity work. She’s done so much more than her ex husband, who hasn’t done much at all. She’s really found her life’s purpose and is going to leave such a legacy. Maybe this will help Jeff realize that he needs to do more and stop hoarding his wealth.

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(FILE) Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and wife MacKenzie to divorce

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43 Responses to “MacKenzie Scott, Jeff Bezos’s ex, has given away over 4 billion the past few months”

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  1. Iris says:

    This is great. It really is. I’m not taking that way from her, I wish more people (especially Bezos) thought the same way.

    But tax the goddamn rich!

    • Jules says:

      Yea, mixed feelings… really awesome she is doing this. But it’s just an obscene amount of money, for anyone to have billions of dollars.

    • Tanya says:

      I’d be interested in how much of that 4B was made in the last 9months. At least she’s walking the walk, which is more than her ex abs his new lady “cool girl” Lauren can say.

      As my sistee said “she’s been married to a comic book villain for so long, I’m sure she wants to put some good back into the world”.

      Oh yeah, before I forget…. Eat the rich.

      • Emmy Rae says:

        I’ve read that after her major giving spree, she has MORE money than before and directed her team to figure out how to give more away. Good for her, and let this clarify to people that the system has to be changed. Bill Gates has more money now than when he started giving half of his money away.

    • alexc says:

      So true. It shouldn’t be left up to single, insanely wealthy individuals, who just might happen to be benevolent, generous human beings… or not, to have this much power and impact. Something is deeply wrong with a system that allows massive wealth to accrue to so few individuals while so many others live in poverty. Kudos to Mackenzie for having a conscience and a soul though.

    • anon says:

      These billionaires could start with paying their employees a decent wage first. That would make a difference in so many peoples lives as well….

      ‘No one ever makes a billion dollars. You take a billion dollars’: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez slams billionaires for exploiting workers.

  2. megs283 says:

    Bezos’ rotten affair has been the best thing for the world this year.

  3. Kate says:

    Jeff REALLY traded down.

  4. Lunasf17 says:

    No one should be a billionaire in this society! I’m glad she is sharing the wealth but taxing the filthy rich would help out every person in this country. Im so sick of capitalism at this point and the immense wealth inequality.

    • Josie Bean says:

      True – it is disgusting that company CEO’s make millions and the average workers at the same company are on minimum wages or not much more. Disney comes to mind. So many of these super rich people just want more and more money. Like the A-list celebrities who make a fortune for staring in a movie and feel the need to launch their signature perfumes and skin care lines, etc etc. GREEDY.

    • Emm says:

      Yep, all the billionaires made more money then they ever have over these last 10months and there are millions who literally can’t afford food.

  5. MaryContrary says:

    She’s wonderful-good for her. I wish her horrible ex-husband would do more for the world.

  6. Ferdinand says:

    “She’s really found her life’s purpose and is going to leave such a legacy“

    I mean. If I had 36 billion dollars, and never had to worry again., I’d also be giving to countless charities and trying to make the world a better place wherever I go.

  7. ThatsNotOkay says:

    I can see why they grew apart. Jeff went Elon Musk-level evil.

  8. Golly Gee says:

    Wow. So intelligently done but also so thoughtful and compassionate. It must have been painful to have her marriage break up due to infidelity, but there are very likely countless lives being improved and even saved as a result of her marriage ending. Look at the power she has now and the light that radiates from her face. It feels so good to read about goodness prevailing like this for a change.

  9. Sayrah says:

    I like her very much. Good job

  10. Megan2 says:

    Income inequality, housing insecurity, food insecurity… all of these and more are things that I have thought about so much this year. Before the pandemic, I just didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about it beyond making my holiday donations to foodbanks and shelters, and most of the time I just wasn’t aware enough of how precarious so many people’s lives truly are.

    I’m so inspired by this woman. She has so much privilege and is using it in such an amazing way… I’m nowhere close to her wealth but I have been insanely lucky this year in that I haven’t worried about losing my job, paying rent or buying food. I’ve been safe and comfortable, and seeing how many people don’t even have those two things; safety and comfort; is heartbreaking. I hope I can be more like Mackenzie… on my much smaller scale, but truly anything more than enough feels like a blessing I don’t deserve these days.

  11. Jaded says:

    Jeff gives away 100 million and he thinks he’s the most important philanthropist in the world. He makes that in a day off the sweat of thousands of underpaid, overworked slave labourers, especially during the pandemic. Take a page out of your wonderful ex-wife’s playbook you miserly latter-day Scrooge and start giving billions, not millions, away to make the world a better place.

  12. Amelie says:

    What an amazing human being and a great example of what people with absurd wealth should do. Not only is she giving away most of her wealth, but she is putting in time and research to identify organizations where her donations will make the most impact. I wonder how Bill Gates distributes his donations? Out of all the tech CEOs, he by far donates the most.

    Jeff Bezos has donated a lot of money to homelessness and he gave a $100+ million dollar donation to Feeding America early on in the COVID pandemic, so he has donated a lot of money. In comparison to other tech CEOs, he ranks higher than most but he could do WAY more. I used to work for a company owned by Amazon and one of the Amazon leadership principles was unsurprisingly frugality. We Amazon employees did NOT get free Amazon Prime, which so many people were astounded to discover when I told them. We DID get a 10% discount on items sold and shipped by Amazon (NOT third party sellers) but that amount was literally $100 so practically nothing. Jeff is a stingy SOB even with his own employees. I swear to God he hoards his wealth so he can fund it all to Blue Origin, his rocket company.

  13. Veronica S. says:

    Good for her. I’m still going to vote to tax the shit out of them, though.

    I will say if more of them were as smart as she was, they wouldn’t get this backlash. If you give back a decent percentage your wealth, you can keep the most of it.

    • schmootc says:

      Couldn’t agree more. We need to tax the rich so much more than we already do, but I’d be less vehement about that if so many of them weren’t greedy buttholes. Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are right up there.

    • lucy2 says:

      I agree.

      I don’t have an issue with people earning big success and living well because of it, but no one needs BILLIONS upon billions in cash. A more progressive tax code, especially on big corporations like this, would do wonders for the country, and the world, and eliminate much of the need she is trying to meet here.

      That said, I am SUPER impressed with her, and how thoughtfully and diligently she and her team worked to make sure the money is going to the best places. I imagine she is setting it up so that she will be able to do a lifetime of giving.

      I’m also kicking myself for selling the little bit of amazon stock I did back when it was like $1600/share, I think it’s now double that. I can’t imagine how much she’s made just this year alone.

  14. BearcatLawyer says:

    We are both alumnae of the same boarding school, so this does not surprise me at all. I marvel at how much good this money will put out into the world.

  15. Jumpingthesnark says:

    I’m going to go the ultra petty route and imagine a lovely Tea party where the invitees spill ALL of their tea! I’ll start with invites for Mackenzie and continue with Empress Megan. Anyone else y’all would like to invite?

  16. Larisa says:

    Can’t agree more with all those who recognize she’s a lovely lady for doing this, but yeah, something is very wrong with the system where we are at the mercy of one person for meeting such basic and important needs. What if she wasn’t so lovely? Are we really ok with not helping? This money should have been taxed and used as “our” money, not her money to give away or not, as she pleases.

  17. StillInPJs says:

    A friend of mine reviewed her debut novel for the NYT and said it was the best first novel he ever read. She helped Amazon get off the ground in the first years. She is significant in her own right, and I’m happy she’s stepping out from her husband’s fame.

  18. lolalola3 says:

    What an amazing force for good she is in the world! Why can’t her douchebag x have any of those qualities? Not to be a jerk because Celebitchy I love you but she didn’t not “receive” money because it was already hers. When their divorce was announced, I found it really depressing how people on social media were bitching how he “had to give her” x-amount of dollars. They were a couple, a family. She worked on the Amazon start-up and earned that money/stock. I hope the kids grow up to be more like here & not him. Ok, I’ll stfu and go back to my granny annex now.

  19. sassafras says:

    We can tax the shit out of them AND they can give to charity! If a Billionaire just kept 1 billion in the bank, and do nothing with it, they will have more money to give it back to the country that made it happen for them. I dream of being so fortunate one day.

  20. Liz version 700 says:

    That is awesome. It really is. Charities are desperate for help right now.

  21. Lionel says:

    Putting in the real work to do massive amounts of philanthropic good bust be fulfilling for her. But doing all that and, without saying a single name, making your philandering evil-elf ex-husband look like even more of a douche canoe? PRICELESS.

  22. Faye G says:

    This is really nice news to hear, I’m glad to hear that at least one billionaire has a soul and a conscience. Her contributions will impact so many people.

    I’m from Seattle and Jeff has a reputation for being a total slimeball. Greedy, corrupt, and a miser, he’s done absolutely nothing to give back to the area. Like another commenter said, tax the rich!

  23. Laura-J says:

    I love this, but no one should have that much money, and non profits shouldn’t have to hope for a billionaire to help.

    I so wish I could give away millions or billions of dollars.

  24. LP says:

    Maybe we could do a Celebitchy book club of Anand Giridharadas’s book on this topic, Winners Take All? I’ve been meaning to read it! His Twitter is full of good arguments about charitable giving compared to, and along with, taxation!

  25. incognito08 says:

    I read that she distributed payments to a number of Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs). Although I didn’t attend an HBCU, I am glad that they will benefit from her largesse. The HBCUs, in turn, gave scholarships to well-deserving students to enable them to complete their studies. Kudos to MacKenzie!

    • liz says:

      She did give to a number of HBCUs, and not just the ones that everyone has heard of and thinks of first (Spellman, Howard, etc.). She also included lesser known schools like Alcorn & Dillard.

  26. Julie says:

    Wow, he really downgraded when he left her, didn’t he?

  27. Lisa says:

    I read that the 1.7 billion she gave away she made it back in one week due to her Amazon stocks and shares.

    • Godwina says:

      I wish, then, that she finds a way to give mega money back to every single individual Amazon worker who earned that $$ for her bank account.