MacKenzie Scott appears to have become the world’s fourth-most-generous living philanthropist this week, after she announced a fresh $2 billion in donations to charities and government.
That brings her total lifetime giving to about $14 billion, according to AFP. The Chronicle of Philanthropy has a slightly lower figure, but still over $13 billion. Either sum would put her above Michael Bloomberg’s $12.7 billion in lifetime giving so far, according to Forbes, and place Scott in fourth place.
Warren Buffet tops Forbes’ list of the world’s biggest philanthropists, having given away over $46 billion by the start of 2022. Next are Bill and Melinda Gates with $33.4 billion and George Soros with $18.1 billion.
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and Scott’s former husband, made headlines this week by announcing that he would give away most of his fortune to help causes including fighting climate change. He hasn’t yet detailed how. At the start of 2022, he was 16th on the Forbes philanthropy list, having given away $2.1 billion.
Of course, most of these incredibly rich billionaires aren’t trying to climb rankings, and a difference of a few hundred million between Bloomberg and Scott might easily be reversed by a big announcement. But what are these givers trying to do?
One thing, manifestly, is to help people. The super rich have huge power to change and save lives, and in recent years they have begun giving money away more, and via more coordinated efforts like The Giving Pledge, launched in 2010, which commits billionaires to give away more than half of their money.
But there are other reasons, too. As Scott acknowledged in her 2019 pledge, the super rich have an unfair amount of money. Her words suggest that she wants to be, and be seen as, a good person.
“In addition to whatever assets life has nurtured in me, I have a disproportionate amount of money to share. My approach to philanthropy will continue to be thoughtful. It will take time and effort and care. But I won’t wait. And I will keep at it until the safe is empty,” she wrote.