MacKenzie Scott just became the largest individual donor to the Girl Scouts of the USA. The author and philanthropist gave a generous $84.5 million to the organization and 29 of its local branches, they announced on Tuesday, Oct. 18. The donation comes just weeks after Scott filed for divorce against Dan Jewett. She was previously married to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, but the pair divorced in January 2019 after 25 years of marriage and she received 25% of stake in the company upon settlement.
“We are so appreciative,” Sofia Chang, CEO of GSUSA told People. “This is a great accelerator for our ongoing efforts to help girls cultivate the skills and connections to lead in their own communities and globally. We’re excited to prove how MacKenzie’s investment in girls will change the world—because when one girl succeeds, we all succeed.”
The nearly $85 million donation was more than the 1912-founded organization has ever received from a single person. One lucky local chapter, the Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council, selected by Scott, received $4.2 million.
Scott often makes massive silent donations, but, being one of the richest women in the world and in the public eye, she is constantly under watch. Earlier this year, she gave $275 million to Planned Parenthood, the largest donation the reproductive health non-profit has ever received.
In a self-penned letter on Medium, Scott explained her philosophy on giving back.
“Equity can only be realized when all people involved have an opportunity to help shape it,” the 52-year-old wrote. “This means a focus on the needs of those whose voices have been underrepresented. It also means including others within the system who want to help improve it, harnessing insights and engagement from every role. Teachers, administrators, parents, and students. Incarcerated people, crime survivors, police officers, and the family members of them all. Veterans and refugees.”
She listed 465 non-profits to whom she, in total, donated more than $3 billion to. Scott’s contributions come with “no strings attached” and the nonprofits have full control over the ways in which they use the money.
“When our giving team focuses on any system in which people are struggling, we don’t assume that we, or any other single group, can know how to fix it,” she continued. “We don’t advocate for particular policies or reforms. Instead, we seek a portfolio of organizations that supports the ability of all people to participate in solutions.”
Scott is an advocate for the belief that helping one group, helps them all. And she has research to back it up—bike lanes for cyclists improving local retail sales and property value, seatbelt laws meant to protect young children saving all ages and racially diverse schools improving education for students of all ethnicities. And these are only the quantifiable positive outcomes of “ripple effects.”
“The dividends of changes in attitude each time disparate groups help each other are harder to trace. But the trend line is clear” she added. “Communities with a habit of removing obstacles for different subsets of people tend to get better for everyone.”