It all started with a mysterious email. The director of Fondo Semillas, a Mexican feminist empowerment organization, had in her inbox a message from a consultant who assured that someone was interested in making an important donation. The selection process had to be followed under the strictest secrecy. The emails were followed by an interview lasting more than two hours, a thorough review of the documents, reports and financial statements of the association founded 30 years ago. Throughout the procedure, which took several months, one requirement remained: the name of the donor would be kept confidential at all times. Behind this was one of the richest women in the world, MacKenzie Scott, ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
“Everything was magically mysterious,” says Tania Turner, executive director of Fondo Semillas, by phone. Scott announced Tuesday via a post on Medium which has donated 2.7 billion dollars (almost 2.3 billion euros) to 286 organizations that are “empowering voices that the world needs to hear” and that have suffered from a lack of funding. The harsh selection process to which the organization chaired by Turner was subjected was repeated 285 times more with philanthropic institutions dedicated to the arts, education, the fight against poverty, equality and social justice. Among the long list of associations benefiting from the “gift” is a museum of Mexican American art in Texas, a Hispanic dance company in New York, a South African development organization, another to end discrimination against Muslims, the famous theater Apollo of Harlem, universities in California, Texas and New Hampshire, philanthropic groups in Puerto Rico and India … among hundreds more.
“These are people who have spent years fighting for humanitarian advances without knowing many times if there will be money in their accounts for the next two months,” Scott wrote in Medium. She assured that the gifts are “relatively large” and explained that both she and her current husband, science professor Dan Jewett, do not intend to put themselves in the spotlight with the gesture. The philanthropist recalled that non-profit organizations employ 10% of the workforce in the United States and have another 63 million volunteers.
Neither Scott nor Turner have revealed the amount donated, which has not yet reached the funds of the organization that weaves networks with women from all over Mexico. The director of the fund assures that it is a “significant” amount that will allow them to keep the job for at least 10 more years if they invest it well and make it grow. “It has been a donation with flexibility and without restrictions. They have given us absolute confidence, ”says Turner, who believes that Scott’s election is also an endorsement of the work they have done with the feminist movement for three decades. Along with them, other allied organizations such as Rise Up Y Women’s Funding Network.
Several organizations received with perplexity the email that promised a large donation in exchange for a lot of information. The announcement generated mistrust at a time when inboxes were filled with requests from Nigerian princes offering to share their fortunes. Many thought it was a scam before starting security procedures. “Mrs. Scott’s name had to be kept confidential until she decided to make it public,” says Turner, who learned three weeks ago who was behind it all.
Scott’s announcement on Tuesday is the third since 2019, when she became one of the richest women in the world thanks to her divorce from Bezos, a separation that benefited her with 4% of the technology’s shares, which are worth today over $ 3,000 per unit. Magazine Fortune estimates that the wealth of the 51-year-old writer is around 60,000 million dollars (about 50,000 million euros), which places her among the 20 largest fortunes on the planet. Bezos’s ex-wife, who remarried a Seattle science professor, has continued to enrich herself thanks to Amazon’s increased profits during the health emergency.
Scott promised two years ago to donate much of his money while adhering to the Giving Pledge initiative, used as a philanthropic tool by billionaires such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. And he has done it. In July 2020, he announced a millionaire cast. This was followed by another in December. Throughout the pandemic Scott donated more than 4,000 million dollars (about 3,400 million euros) destined to food banks and organizations of racial justice, climate change and rights of the LGTBQ community. In three rounds of donations, their gifts have totaled more than $ 8 billion (about € 6.7 billion). Generosity generates. Sharing does more, ”Scott concluded.
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