Girl Scouts of the USA Receives Largest Single Donation in Over 100 Years, Thanks to Mackenzie Scott

The record-breaking donation will help make up for lost funding during the pandemic.

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By Emily Rella Originally published

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MacKenzie Scott, who was formerly married to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, is a highly regarded philanthropist and known for her generous donations and grants to non-profits and community-focused initiatives.

And her latest donation is breaking records.

On Tuesday, The Girl Scouts of the USA revealed that Scott had donated $84.5 million to the organization and 29 local branches, marking the largest single donation the company has ever received in its over 100 years of existence.

The Girl Scouts plan to use the funding to help make up for lost funding during the pandemic — as an organization that thrives on in-person fundraising and events, memberships took a major hit during the age of COVID protocols.

Other uses for the funds will go towards improving science and tech education for its members, D&I initiatives (namely to attain new members from underserved communities) as well as renovations on campsites and other Girl Scout sites.

"Organizations set their budget annually, and most all of them also have a 3-to-5-year vision and strategy. However, some programming may get cut or the 5-year plan may not be possible due to the fickle nature of fundraising," Steve Greanias, General Manager of online fundraising platform Givesmart tells Entrepreneur of how organizations of this size may begin to break down a donation as large in size as Scott's. "Every organization has a priority list based on its fiscal health. There are also unexpected expenses ranging from building maintenance to inflation impacts. A gift of this caliber fills in any budget gaps and allows organizations to make responsible investments in infrastructure, staff, and plans for long-term sustainability. "

The organization also plans to use Scott's donation to "foster meaningful program innovation informed by the current interests and needs of girls to prepare them for leadership, including an expanded focus on career readiness and mental wellness," per a press release.

Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Sofia Chang said that Scott's support of the non-profit "means honestly just as much as the donation" and that following the pandemic, she aims to have the Girl Scouts "build back stronger than we ever had before."

And though Girl Scout cookie sales have remained successful (the organization saw just over $3 million in sales during the 2021 season), the revenue from that alone has not been enough to enact the changes the organization wishes to implement.

"Being transparent with the breakdown of expenses vs. programming costs illustrates what it takes to sustain an organization," Greanias explains. "Sharing a statistic about how much additional revenue is needed to continue, in the case of the Girl Scouts – for programs, camps, financial aid, and more, highlights that cookie sales alone will not get it done. Any nonprofit or school should share how their constituents benefit, where the money goes, and what funding gaps they have. No organization should assume their support network knows that information."

Scott recently made headlines when she filed for divorce last month from her second husband, Dan Jewett, after a little over a year and a half of marriage.

Ahead of her filing, she donated two Beverly Hills homes to the California Community Foundation to support the nonprofit's affordable housing and immigrant integration initiatives, worth an estimated combined total of $55 million.

It's part of a 2019 commitment the philanthropist made to donate the majority of her wealth to nonprofit and philanthropic efforts as a part of the Giving Pledge — when billionaires promise to donate the majority of their wealth to charitable causes by the end of their lifetime.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Scott's net worth was an estimated $28.4 billion.

Emily Rella

Entrepreneur Staff

News Writer

Emily Rella is a news writer at Previously, she was an editor at Verizon Media. Her coverage spans features, business, lifestyle, tech, entertainment, and lifestyle. She is a 2015 graduate of Boston College and a Ridgefield, CT native. Find her on Twitter at @EmilyKRella.

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