MacKenzie Scott donations averted feared pitfalls: New examine

MacKenzie Scott’s huge presents have been a boon to the charities who obtained them, and widespread fears within the nonprofit world that her presents would lead different donors to tug again their help or that small teams would not be capable of deal with them have been largely unfounded.

That is based on a examine by the Middle for Efficient Philanthropy, which surveyed greater than 700 nonprofits that Scott recognized as grant recipients in 2020 and 2021. The middle obtained responses from 277 nonprofits.

Among the many findings:

• Practically 90% of respondents stated the present from Scott was the biggest unrestricted donation their group had ever obtained.

• Virtually the entire nonprofits — 98% — stated they have been directing the funds towards enhancing their present packages and beginning new ones.

• Virtually three-quarters — 73% — stated they have been hiring extra workers or consultants to tackle that new work.

• Greater than 90% stated they have been utilizing the donation to enhance their charity’s monetary stability.

Susan Goodell, chief government of El Pasoans Combating Starvation, a meals financial institution that obtained $9 million from Scott in December 2020, stated the cash got here at a pivotal time. It shored up her group’s monetary well being after hovering food-assistance wants pressured the charity to broaden sooner than it might deal with. The group had taken out a mortgage to purchase a constructing it might flip right into a food-storage warehouse.

“Trying towards 2021, we have been terribly afraid we have been going to should reduce when want was nonetheless extremely excessive,” Goodell says.

As an alternative of scaling again in 2021 as Goodell feared, Scott’s $9 million infusion in late 2020 meant Goodell was capable of repay roughly $2.6 million in debt the meals financial institution had taken on and purchase extra meals to fulfill the rising wants in El Paso.

“It was actually a shot within the arm at a time when this group was in unimaginable want,” Goodell says. “Frankly, I do not know what we might have executed with out this present.”

Many of the respondents stated foundations and particular person donors did not change their help due to the Scott donation, one thing many nonprofits and philanthropy consultants had frightened about. Barely greater than half of the respondents within the examine — 52% — stated receiving a donation from Scott made their fundraising efforts simpler, and 35% stated it had no impact in any respect on their fundraising.

The likelihood that different donors may rethink their help was on the thoughts of Akil Vohra, government director of Asian American Youth LEAD, which obtained $2 million from Scott in 2021. Up to now, nevertheless, his group hasn’t skilled a lower in help from different donors or foundations.

“It is nonetheless a priority for me about what that (present) means for brand new funders transferring ahead,” he says. “However I feel that is form of my duty to proceed to speak concerning the work we’re doing and what impression it is having and the necessity within the AAPI neighborhood.”

Vohra’s group gives after-school educational packages, management growth, mentoring, and summer time packages to underserved Asian-American and Pacific Islander youths in DC, Maryland, and Virginia.

“Her funding put a highlight on a neighborhood that’s usually seen as this minority mannequin however that in fact has nice wants,” says Vohra, who factors out that almost all of the youths his group serves are on free or reduced-cost college meals , and lots of are current immigrants.

Like almost 60% of survey respondents, Vohra says Scott’s present gave the charity a lift to enhance its infrastructure. In his group’s case, that has meant buying new and higher laptops, telephones, and growth expertise. He was additionally capable of give workers vital raises, one thing 62% of respondents stated Scott’s help made attainable.

Scott’s present additionally enabled Asian American Youth LEAD to broaden its packages. Because of this, the charity now serves 30% extra youths.

About 75% of respondents stated receiving a donation from Scott modified their strategy to fundraising as a result of it bolstered their confidence when asking foundations or people for help. Some stated Scott’s present made them really feel assured sufficient to ask foundations for bigger grants than that they had prior to now, or it gave them larger braveness to ask for bigger annual presents from donors.

Scott began giving huge in the summertime of 2020 when she introduced her first spherical of unrestricted, principally one-time donations to a whole lot of charities. For a lot of organizations, the seven- and eight-figure presents have been the biggest that they had ever obtained, and her subsequent giving has continued to observe that mannequin.

Scott has supported a variety of giant, well-known charities like Easterseals, Goodwill, and Boys and Ladies Golf equipment of America. However she has additionally given vital sums to traditionally Black schools and universities; nonprofits led by folks of coloration, girls, and those that determine as LGBTQ; and different missed charities that assist underserved populations.

Up to now, she has given greater than $13 billion to charity. Practically $8.6 billion of that went out in her first three rounds of giving, on which the examine, Giving Massive: The Influence of Massive, Unrestricted Presents on Nonprofits, is targeted.

Advancing racial, gender, and different kinds of fairness is a vital a part of the missions of many organizations that obtained Scott presents.

• Practically 70% of survey respondents stated Scott’s present allowed their group to advance racial fairness extra successfully, and almost two-thirds stated they have been higher capable of additional financial mobility.

• 65% of the survey’s respondents determine as girls and 40% as folks of coloration. Among the many latter, many stated that receiving a donation from Scott was particularly galvanizing.

Kathleen Enright, CEO of the Council on Foundations and former head of Grantmakers for Efficient Organizations, says Scott’s funding decisions are particularly vital as a result of they go towards a historic pattern.

“She is prioritizing nonprofits led by girls and folks of coloration for huge unrestricted grants, whereas traditionally, nonprofits led notably by folks of coloration and typically additionally girls are required to go over the next bar of proof and oftentimes obtain smaller grants,” Enright says . “So that may be a constructive transfer.”

Nonprofits within the examine obtained donations from Scott of $1 million to $250 million. The examine places the numerous dimension of these presents into context. The median grant from Scott was $8 million, a monumental sum when put next with $100,000, the median grant most staffed foundations give to nonprofits, based on the examine.

“That is an order of magnitude completely different. Even huge foundations that make huge grants, on the median give round $500,000, perhaps $1 million on the exterior,” says Phil Buchanan, president of the Middle for Efficient Philanthropy. “These are $8 million presents, so I do not suppose the size of those presents relative each to the scale of the organizations and to what’s typical of different main donors might be overstated.”


This text was offered to The Related Press by the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Maria Di Mento is a senior reporter on the Chronicle. E-mail: [email protected] The AP and the Chronicle obtain help from the Lilly Endowment for protection of philanthropy and nonprofits. The AP and the Chronicle are solely liable for all content material. For all of AP’s philanthropy protection, go to

Leave a Comment