GUAYNABO, Puerto Rico — Novelist and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott has donated $436 million to Habitat for Humanity International and 84 affiliates. The gift aims to help alleviate the global housing shortage and promote equitable access to affordable housing. Scott’s donation to Habitat for Humanity is part of her 2019 Giving Pledge to give away as much of her wealth as possible after her divorce from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos that same year.
A Sizeable Transformational Donation
Scott’s donation to Habitat for Humanity International and 84 of its U.S. affiliates will “substantially help further Habitat’s vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live.” According to Habitat for Humanity International’s CEO Jonathan Reckford, this “generous gift” from Scott will allow Habitat to “dramatically increase capacity and implement programs that will have a multi-generational impact” on communities across the world for many years.
Over the next four years, Habitat for Humanity International plans to use its $25 million portion of the donation to significantly expand its affordable housing initiatives and advocacy efforts to make the housing market inclusive for all.
Alternatively, the donation will also help fund the organization’s “research and measurement efforts to identify [the best]practices in areas such as preserving home affordability and housing innovation. The donation will also help the organization “explore how new and existing programs lead to better outcomes for individuals and families.”
Additionally, the donation will help Habitat for Humanity International and its U.S. affiliates support the organization’s Tithe International Disasters Fund, which has already “committed $200,000 in support of Habitat’s initial response to refugees fleeing Ukraine.”
Scott’s Ongoing Donation Efforts
Scott signed the Giving Pledge in 2019 after receiving 25% of Jeff Bezos’ Amazon stake as part of their divorce settlement. In a letter posted on her website, she stated her desire for her philanthropic approach to “remain thoughtful,” stating further that she “will keep at it until the safe is empty.”
At the time of the divorce, her share of the Amazon stake had a value of roughly $36 billion, but the stock’s value is rising so quickly that she is still “accumulating wealth faster than she can give it away.”
Regardless, Scott has stayed true to her pledge. By February 2022, she had donated about $8.9 billion. By March 2022, that number was up to $9.6 billion, and, it continues rising as her philanthropic efforts continue. Scott’s donation to Habitat for Humanity International and its affiliates is her largest publicly disclosed donation, yet she has decided to stop disclosing information on her donations herself, leaving this decision to the recipients of her donations to declare if they so choose to.
The Fourth Wealthiest Woman in the World
According to Forbes, Scott has been “giving away her [fortune much faster]than any other billionaire” or “anyone in history” for that matter. Yet, despite her many generously large donations in the last two years, she is still the “fourth richest woman in the world,” falling behind the heiresses of L’Oréal, Walmart and Koch Industries. Forbes currently ranks her the 30th wealthiest person in the world, after ranking 22nd wealthiest in both 2020 and 2021.
Forbes estimates that Scott has already “redirected 4.75 million Amazon shares” to various charitable causes and organizations. However, although she will continue to make these donations, she has become quite secretive about the matter in order to give the spotlight to the organizations she donates to. She has no foundation or website with contact details and does not speak to the press. However, Scott is currently working on “a searchable database of grants” website to continue using her wealth to help others.
– Marcela Agreda L.