As reports persist that Amazon founder and current executive chairman, cyber oligarch Jeff Bezos will soon vertically own and control our entire supply chain and our complete cycle of life, his billionaire philanthropist ex-wife, MacKenzie Scott, is devoting her energy to giving away most of her fortune to groups of her choosing. While not completely clear what guides Scott when choosing her recipients (like the Biden administration, she frequently uses the term "equity"), she recently gave away $3.9 billion in gifts to 465 organizations. The massive donations included contributions to Planned Parenthood and over $100 million focused on twelve non-profit organizations connected to veterans and military causes.
Scott's Latest Donation Round & Record Planned Parenthood Gift
Scott, who has thus far given away more than $12 billion in four rounds of funding since 2020, has taken an unusual approach to philanthropy, often making surprise multi-billion-dollar contributions to charities. As Scott announced her latest round of "gifts" last Wednesday—which included a record $275 million to Planned Parenthood and $133.5 million to Communities in Schools—many groups described the money as "transformational." Indeed, for Planned Parenthood, Scott's unprecedented gift is the largest they've received from a single donor in its more than 100-year history. Planned Parenthood Chief Executive Alexis McGill Johnson said in a statement:
We are incredibly grateful for Ms. Scott's extraordinary philanthropic investment in Planned Parenthood, as a critical part of the public health infrastructure. This funding will support our efforts to advance health equity by eliminating racial and structural barriers for our patients in the communities where Planned Parenthood works.
2021 was the worst year for abortion rights since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973; more than 100 abortion restrictions were enacted across the country and already in 2022, more than 300 abortion restrictions have been introduced across 41 states. Simultaneously, the Supreme Court also turned its back on our long-established constitutional rights, allowing the Texas abortion ban to stand for more than six months, and is considering a Mississippi abortion ban that could overturn Roe by this summer. Similarly, we are seeing attacks on sex education and access to birth control, which could limit access to the full spectrum of reproductive health care.
At such a critical time for reproductive health and rights, this investment and expression of confidence in Planned Parenthood will help us to be as strong as we can be to meet the moment to ensure that we continue to provide the equitable, expert, and compassionate health care that patients expect in our health centers.
Former Planned Parenthood Director Abby Johnson shares her story of leaving the organization.
Scott's Fortune and "Donor-Advised Funds"
According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Scott's fortune is currently valued at nearly $51.8 billion. As one of the first employees of Amazon, Scott's donations have put her in the top ranks of philanthropists worldwide. The New York Times described the announcement last week of her recent contributions as a "course reversal," noting Scott had "grappled with the conflicting demands of her desire for privacy and her goal of publicizing the work done by the groups she is helping."
Unlike foundations, which must file comprehensive, publicly available tax returns, Scott has made her donations through the charitable vehicles known as donor-advised funds, which do not require her to file separate disclosures. In December, she penned a giving letter to her followers called "No Dollar Signs This Time." In the letter, she declined to name the organizations she had given to or the total amount she had donated.
After facing criticism, Scott wrote an addendum two days later, saying she was working on a website that would include a "searchable database of gifts." Scott wrote about the yet to be active website database in her Mar. 23 giving announcement, noting that "a belief in diversity of voices drives my own communication choices." She added that belief is what "governs the pace and design of the website we're creating, which will go live only after it reflects the preferences of every one of these non-profit teams about how details of their gifts are shared."
Scott's Donations to Military and Veterans Groups
Several of the not-for-profit military and veterans groups receiving gifts from Scott described her donations as the single largest they've ever received. Each indicated they plan to use the funding to grow programs to improve veterans' mental health care, provide more educational possibilities and give veterans more opportunities to continue benefiting their communities, among other things.
Scott did not personally reveal how much she gave each particular group in her most recent donations, but Military.com reports that at least ten of the military and veterans groups announced the monetary gifts themselves, totaling $107 million. Mary Beth Bruggeman, president of The Mission Continues, told the publication about the list of Scott's recipients. Bruggeman's organization got $10 million. Brugman noted that the donations are unrestricted and can be used any way they want and within any time frame. She added, "This was meant to uplift a generation of veterans organizations."
Team Rubicon, whose medical teams are providing patient care during the controversial crisis in Ukraine, received $7 million. Speaking of the donation, CEO Art delaCruz shared, "I've been dreaming about this for a long time and, honestly, I thought it was a moonshot." He added, "The pressure is to do good with this gift. Thirty thousand-plus other non-profits, veteran non-profits across the country, to be amongst the few that have this gift, I don't take that privilege and responsibility lightly." With former CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus on its Board, Team Rubicon also partners with Microsoft.
In addition to the two groups previously mentioned, there are ten other veteran and military groups that received donations from Scott, including Blue Star Families, which was founded by former Clinton White House and Pentagon appointee Kathy Roth-Douquet. The group, which supports military spouses and families in dealing with the unique challenges of military life, received $10 million from Scott.
The Bob Woodruff Foundation received $15 million from Scott. The organization said it plans to use Scott's donation, as well as another recent $2.9 million grant it received from Craig Newmark (who sits on the boards of the Poynter Foundation and Politifact), to "advance the foundation's strategic efforts to improve the overall health and well-being of the military and veteran community; ensure local communities have the resources and ability to help veterans thrive after their time in uniform; and shape and improve the military and veteran service sector."
The Headstrong Project, founded by decorated former Marine Corps officer and Hillary Clinton supporter Zach Iscol, also received a donation from Scott. While not disclosing the amount of Scott's contribution, the organization, which focuses on veterans and service members' mental health, had a net revenue of $10.8 million in 2021. Hire Heroes USA, which provides free job search help for service members, received $11 million from Scott.
A group called Operation Homefront, which helps military families find financial stability and had $39.2 million in revenue in 2020, received $20 million. Speaking of Scott's donation, the organization's CEO, Ret. Brig. Gen. John Pray, Jr., said in a statement, "[the] timely investment in our important work will allow us to greatly expand our capacity to help military families overcome their financial hardships and give this very special and deserving group of our fellow citizens the opportunities they deserve to thrive in the communities—our communities—they have worked so hard to protect."
Student Veterans of America, which "aims to empower student veterans," received $8 million. The organization, whose long list of partners includes Google, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Raytheon, Boeing, and Dupont, had $4.9 million in revenue in 2020. In a news release, the group said the money would allow it to expand programs, including its National Conference, Washington Week, Regional Summits, and the Leadership Institute, as well as invest in infrastructure to help student veterans network more efficiently with the group's alumni, mentors, and potential employers.
Team Red, White & Blue, which "focuses on veterans' health and wellness," received $6 million from Scott. Meanwhile, The Warrior-Scholar Project, "which helps veterans and service members excel at four-year universities," received $5 million. Workshop for Warriors also received funds from Scott, although they did not post news about the donation.
Finally, the Wounded Warrior Project, "which focuses on injured veterans," received a $15 million gift from Scott. With $287 million in revenue in 2020, the organization stated Scott's donation is the largest one they've ever received from an individual. The group plans to dedicate the funding to its mental health and brain health programs. Commenting on the donation, WWP CEO Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Mike Linnington said, "We tackle the most critical needs of our nation's wounded heroes, with a significant focus of our work targeting mental health and wellness. We are incredibly humbled and grateful to MacKenzie Scott for her generous contribution that will enable us to reach more veterans in need."