- In a new note on Medium, Mackenzie Scott said she would no longer disclose how much money she donates.
- The billionaire philanthropist had previously disclosed $8.6 billion in total donations over the last 18 months.
- Scott said she wants to turn the focus away from thinking about philanthropy just in terms of money.
Billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott said she wouldn’t reveal how much money she donated to charity since her last philanthropic disclosures in June.
In a Medium blog post titled “No Dollar Signs This Time,” the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said she wants to turn the focus away from thinking about philanthropy just in terms of money.
“How much or how little money changes hands doesn’t make it philanthropy,” she wrote. “Intention and effort make it philanthropy. If we acknowledge what it all has in common, there will be more of it.”
With that in mind, Scott said she wouldn’t be disclosing how much she’d donated over the last six months.
“I want to let each of these incredible teams speak for themselves first if they choose to, with the hope that when they do, media focuses on their contributions instead of mine,” she wrote.
Scott is worth about $60 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index and has signed the Giving Pledge, promising to give her wealth away “until the safe is empty.” She previously announced a total of $8.6 billion in donations over the last 18 months.
Most recently, in June, Scott revealed she had donated more than $2.7 billion to 286 organizations in the first six months of the year.
In her long reflection posted on Wednesday, Scott said philanthropy goes beyond monetary donations by wealthy people.
“Even by the traditional yardstick — money — contributions to the welfare of others by financially wealthy people don’t merit disproportionate attention,” she wrote.
Examples of other forms of philanthropy she cited include an employee at a nonprofit who takes leave from work to care for a dying parent or someone who helps an isolated elderly neighbor get a cell phone she can use to talk to her kids.
“This is all philanthropy,” Scott wrote.
Scott’s fortune has grown since she divorced Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in 2019. She received a 4% stake in the company in the couple’s divorce settlement, and Amazon shares are up 11% year-to-date.
While Scott’s latest blog post takes the debate about philanthropy forward, it could also raise questions on transparency and accountability. Because she donates as a private individual, she isn’t subject to the same public reporting requirements as foundations, which many wealthy donors use.
Brian Mittendorf, a professor of nonprofit accounting at Ohio State University, told MarketWatch that while he understands Scott’s concerns about focusing on donor amounts, other issues arise from Scott’s decision not to disclose numbers.
“These gifts presumably come with substantial tax deductions, so each gift she gives is effectively made in concert with the general public,” Mittendorf told MarketWatch. “The question is what obligation she has in bringing the general public, which is supporting these gifts, along for the ride. The attention she will get is inescapable, but the accountability provided by disclosing giving choices to the public is one of the few levers we have to influence billionaire philanthropy.”
Bridgespan Group, a consulting firm that works with Scott on her philanthropic efforts, did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.