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MacKenzie Scott Pens Essay on Philanthropy, Value of Donations

The billionaire spoke on the notion of smaller-scale donations and acts of service.


MacKenzie Scott (formerly Bezos) penned a new essay on philanthropy posted on Medium Thursday, touching on the subject of how much money and volunteer time is appropriate for each person based on how much they have to give.

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“Which is a more 'generous donation of money to good causes' — 100 dollars from someone who earns 50,000 a year, or 100,000 from someone with 50 million in the bank?” she wrote. “How did the only ‘work of practical beneficence’ worth acknowledging become writing checks?”

Her essay went on to explore the themes of smaller-scale philanthropy and the importance of the unrecognized work done by those donating money in smaller increments.

“The total donated to U.S. charities in 2020 was 471 billion. Of this, nearly a third was given in increments under 5,000 dollars,” Scott explained to readers. “In addition to these gifts few people picture when they think of philanthropy, there was 68 billion in financial support to family members in other countries (hard to track and likely way underreported), tens of billions in crowdfunding, nearly 200 billion in volunteer labor at non-profits, and 670 billion in wages for the paid employees who deliver those non-profit services.”

She then went on to discuss the under- and often non-reported acts of person-to-person giving, such as those volunteering their time working for their communities or giving money to local organizations, or even in interpersonal relationships such as helping out family or close friends.

“Millions more use their voices spontaneously in moments of discrimination in an office or at school. To my knowledge, no one is quantifying the value of organized and informal humanitarian speech and demonstration either,” she wrote.

Scott spoke to the notion of philanthropy being non-quantifiable, as acts of social justice and pushing for social change are all acts of service that cannot be recorded numerically.

Her essay raises good points about what real philanthropic work is — especially following the heat her ex-husband Jeff Bezos received after flying a private jet to a climate change summit and then donating $100 million to the Obama Foundation shortly thereafter.

As of Friday morning, MacKenzie Scott’s net worth was an estimated $58.8 billion.

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