MacKenzie Scott has given away approximately $14 billion over the last 3 years.
During her most recent giving cycle, Scott gave almost $2 billion to 343 organizations, and made the following statement:
“I needn’t ask those I care about what to say to them, or what to do for them. I can share what I have with them to stand behind them as they speak and act for themselves.”
Meanwhile, the charitable giving sector is awash with a focus on “high impact philanthropy” – this notion that the primary (or, even, only) significant impact giving can have is to change society based on the calculus and strategies identified from the perspective of the giver. The, “I’ll give you the money, but I’ll also tell you how to use it because I know what is best for you” approach.
That’s not the direction MacKenzie Scott appears to be headed.
I’m not suggesting Scott is uninterested in the societal impact of her giving. While her process for deciding who to give to is not known, clearly she wants her giving to make life better for others over the long term. Her latest round of giving focused on rural health initiatives, for instance.
However, I am suggesting that her unrestricted gifts and public statements are beginning to outline the profile of a donor who understands that an important part – an important impact – of giving is for the donor to simply let the money go.
When we give – when we truly give to others with no expectation of what will happen next – we are changed. We care more. We become more empathetic and understanding. We become less indifferent. We become more loving.
The concept of “high impact philanthropy” focuses our attention on the broader society and how charity can solve the problems of the masses.
But what giving really does is connect us – simply, goodheartedly, and more meaningfully – one to another. Maybe that’s the “high impact” we really should be focused on.