Scott wrote in a lengthy blog post that she was troubled by the events of this year but had worked with a group of advisers to support nonprofits linked to human rights, environmental and social causes. The move comes after she signed the Giving Pledge, a public promise among the world’s richest people to donate at least half of their wealth throughout their lifetimes.
“There’s no question in my mind that anyone’s personal wealth is the product of a collective effort, and of social structures which present opportunities to some people, and obstacles to countless others,” Scott wrote in the post. “Like many, I watched the first half of 2020 with a mixture of heartbreak and horror. Life will never stop finding fresh ways to expose inequities in our systems.”
To date, Scott has donated more than $586 million to racial equity initiatives, $46 million to LGBTQ groups, $133 million to gender equity causes and $125 million to climate change efforts. Her list of beneficiaries includes major nonprofits including Lambda Legal, The Nature Conservancy and the National Urban League, as well as Seattle-based charities including the United Way of King County.
“I recommend these organizations to anyone similarly excited by the idea of empowering leaders well-positioned to accelerate progress,” Scott wrote. “Every one of them is tackling complex challenges that will require sustained effort over many years, while simultaneously addressing consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
All of the donations were unrestricted unless groups asked otherwise, Scott noted, in order to provide organizations with “maximum flexibility.”
“It’s surreal,” Angelique Albert, executive director of the American Indian Graduate Center and a beneficiary of Scott’s giving, told The Seattle Times. “The fact that it is unrestricted really speaks to [Scott’s] trust in us to really promote racial equity and justice. It empowers us to do what is right for our community.”
Reuters notes that at the time of her divorce, Scott’s 4% stake in Amazon was worth about $36 billion, making her one of the richest women in the world. That figure has surged to more than $60 billion this year following dramatic leaps in Amazon’s share price.
Bezos himself has not taken a similar pledge to donate a majority of his wealth, although he has announced multibillion-dollar philanthropic endeavors this year, including a $10 billion fund to tackle climate change.
In her post, Scott said she would continue to speak of the organizations she chose to support “as my giving continues in the months and years to come.”
“Though this work is ongoing and will last for years, I’m posting an update today because my own reflection after recent events revealed a dividend of privilege I’d been overlooking: the attention I can call to organizations and leaders driving change,” she wrote.