MacKenzie Scott and the $14.2 Billion Dollar Question for Women & Girls

What a week for women’s philanthropy. MacKenzie Scott has shown herself to be a woman who is true to her word, as she continues to give away her fortune at a staggering rate compared to most philanthropists.

MacKenzie Scott
Photo of Stockholm, Sweden by Lindsey LaMont on Unsplash

“Economic losses and health outcomes alike have been worse for women, for people of color and for people living in poverty,” said Scott, in the Medium post where she announced her new gifts totalling $4.2 billion.

Who were the grantees specifically for women and girls? Ms. Foundation for Women, National Women’s Law Center, Global Fund for Women, and a huge proportion of this funding went to 63 different community YWCA programs across the country. Hispanics in Philanthropy, which has a grantmaking strategy focused on gender and racial equity, also received $15 million in funding. The YMCA National office received $20 million and many local YMCA’s also got funding. There were big groups of grants for United Way organizations across the country as well as Feed America, Easterseals, Meals on Wheels, and Good Will. Many universities for people of color also received substantial gifts. Most gifts appeared to be in the $10 to $50 million range.


So that brings us to the next question. How much of a dent will this new funding for women and girls make in the proportionate underfunding of women and girls relative to the rest of philanthropy? What if other philanthropists could match this kind of commitment by MacKenzie Scott? Could we double funding for women and girls as a proportion of philanthropy in one year, and if so, what would that look like?

Let’s take a quick look at the numbers. Let’s use $7.1 billion as the benchmark for 1.6% of giving. Doubling that would mean increasing by another $7.1 billion to make $14.2 billion in giving for women and girls for one year.

Step One of This Plan: People Currently Giving for Women and Girls, Keep Giving!

Everyone who is already giving to women and girls, keep going. We don’t need any more big donors dropping out and closing programs. This is seriously not the time.

Step Two: Who Else Could Contribute to this $14.2 Billion? Who Can Add to the extra $7.1 Billion?

With MacKenzie Scott’s most recent gift, I would imagine a good billion might be identified as specifically benefitting women and girls, so that gets us down to about $6.1 billion.

Hmmmm, let’s see. You know what would be a really gallant and gender-conscious gesture of healthy uncoupling? If Jeff Bezos matched MacKenzie’s estimated $1 billion for women and girls. Wouldn’t that make us all feel so much better about him?

So then we’d be down to $5.1 billion. How about Bill and Melinda Gates? Why not? Perhaps another $2 billion between the two of them?

The rest of the tab, $3.1 billion, could be picked up by a coalition of Mike Bloomberg, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, Elon Musk, the Buffetts, and a few hundred thousand dollars each from the big legacy foundations — Ford, Rockefeller, Open Societies Foundation, Packard, Hewlett and Kellogg.

It could be done. We just need to have the will to do it, like MacKenzie Scott. And what exactly did she do?

I believe the Red Hot Chili Peppers may have said it best. “Give it away, give it away, give it away now…”

Meanwhile, Jeff Bezos lives on as the ultimate scrooge of today, amassing more than $185 billion while his company gains a reputation for creating grueling environments with high injury rates and poor pay practices.  


Is Melinda Influencing MacKenzie Toward Feminist Giving?

MacKenzie’s Pledge: Leaders Driving Change to Fix Inequality

At $37 Billion, Did MacKenzie Bezos Get a Fair Divorce?

Uncoupled Bezos and Scott Join to Give $13 Million for Maternal Health

Author: Kiersten Marek

Kiersten Marek, LICSW, is the founder of Philanthropy Women. She practices clinical social work and writes about how women donors and their allies are advancing social change.

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