New Crop of Billionaires Giving Away Their Fortunes

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MacKenzie Scott, recent divorcee of billionaire and founder of Amazon Jeff Bezos, is taking an unconventional path regarding her massive fortune.

Since divorcing Bezos in April of 2019, Scott signed the Giving Pledge, in which she promised to donate half of her wealth. The Giving Pledge was created by Warren Buffett and Melinda Gates in 2010 to encourage the affluent to engage in philanthropic endeavors and bridge the wealth gap so prevalent in American society.

In her Medium post, Scott announced a list of 465 non-profits to which she donated a total of $3,863,125,000, including Planned Parenthood, The Boys and Girls Club, and the Innocence Project.

“Approximately 60% of the organizations listed below are led by women, and 75% by people with lived experience in the regions they support and the issues they seek to address,” Scott wrote.

Tamsin Smith, Williston class of ’84 and former president RED of major social impact innovator, strongly supports the amount of organizations Scott has reached, and believes that it says a lot about her personal character.

“There is something about ‘I’m going to pick a single issue and I’m going to be the dominant force, I’m going to solve this problem,’ which I think is also kind of an ego-driven way of going about it,” Smith said. “She’s not going for the sexy, big ticket, what’s hot name, she is giving money to those that need it, that she believes in.”

“She’s not worried about getting credit in my perspective, she doesn’t seem to be worried about tallying up all the numbers so she can be the biggest giver to ocean Help or the biggest giver to rural education, she is giving money to those that need it, that she believes in,” she continued.

[Editor’s Note: Smith is the author’s mother.]

According to the Giving Pledge website, around 240 of the world’s wealthiest people have signed the pledge, including Michael Bloomberg, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Mark Zuckerberg.

The Bloomberg Billionaires Index estimates Scott’s net worth at about $55 billion, making her one of the world’s wealthiest women. The nearly $4 billion she recently reported┬ádonating has added to her total philanthropic endeavors of $12 billion. This has only begun to scratch the surface of her Giving Pledge.

“I appreciate she’s just doing what she said she’d do, which is kind of a rare thing in any area,” Smith said. “There are a lot of tech leaders who have made the same pledge over and over again who never actually delivered on that pledge. She is pushing money out the door and trying to do some good in this world and I really respect that”.

However, in an informal survey of 40 students done through Instagram Polls, 42% of teens voted “No” to the question “If you came into a lot of money, would you pledge to donate half?”

Daniel McKellick, a freshmen at Western New England University who lives in Montgomery, Mass., was one of the people who voted against the pledge, but reasoned that he still would not keep it all for himself.

“I wouldn’t donate half, but I’d set everyone important in my life up financially,” he said.

Brad Hall, a senior at Abraham Lincoln School in San Francisco, Calif., would, true to capitalist ideals, keep the money for himself.

“The first thing I would buy is a new car, then I would probably drop out of school and go wherever I wanted and bring a bunch of my friends with me,” Brad said.

“It’s my money,” he added. “I mean I feel like I should be able to spend it however I want because I worked [for] it. Not because I’m selfish, just because I think I deserve to live my dream life if I earned all that money.”

However, the majority of students voted “yes” to the question, and some even included the organizations they would donate to.

Of those who claimed they would donate to charities, each had different organizations on the top of their lists. Some of those charities included “Feeding America,” “Planned Parenthood,” “LGBTQIA+,” “Black Lives Matter,” “SPCA,” “Student Scholarships,” “ASAN,” “AWN,” “Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation,” “New Doors Ventures,” “WOMAN INC,” “UNICEF,” “Hope For Children,” “SUGI”, “The Go Campaign,” and “RAINN.”