June 15, 2021
MacKenzie Scott, the third-wealthiest woman in the world, has announced that she is giving grants averaging $10 million each to 286 equity-oriented organizations. The organizations chosen focus on supporting higher education, arts and culture, and community engagement; centering ethnic and religious minorities; and fighting global poverty. The list of grantees includes many community arts education organizations, Guild members, and members of the Guild's extended "family"!
In a piece on Medium, Scott explains her unconventional approach to philanthropy, which forgoes the foundation model, aims to center organizations that work with marginalized communities and/or have been historically excluded from funding streams, and, perhaps most significantly, imposes no restrictions on how the funding can be used (Vu Le of Nonprofit AF has written extensively about the need for this):
"In this effort, we are governed by a humbling belief that it would be better if disproportionate wealth were not concentrated in a small number of hands, and that the solutions are best designed and implemented by others. Though we still have a lot to learn about how to act on these beliefs without contradicting and subverting them, we can begin by acknowledging that people working to build power from within communities are the agents of change. Their service supports and empowers people who go on to support and empower others.
These are people who have spent years successfully advancing humanitarian aims, often without knowing whether there will be any money in their bank accounts in two months. What do we think they might do with more cash on hand than they expected? Buy needed supplies. Find new creative ways to help. Hire a few extra team members they know they can pay for the next five years. Buy chairs for them. Stop having to work every weekend. Get some sleep.
Because we believe that teams with experience on the front lines of challenges will know best how to put the money to good use, we encouraged them to spend it however they choose. Many reported that this trust significantly increased the impact of the gift."
In the piece, Scott also explains why she considers arts and cultural institutions an important sector to invest in:
"Arts and cultural institutions can strengthen communities by transforming spaces, fostering empathy, reflecting community identity, advancing economic mobility, improving academic outcomes, lowering crime rates, and improving mental health, so we evaluated smaller arts organizations creating these benefits with artists and audiences from culturally rich regions and identity groups that donors often overlook."
We congratulate all of the organizations receiving grants, and are intrigued to see how the field of philanthropy continues to shift towards equity. Visit the Community Centric Fundraising website to learn about the movement to evolve how fundraising is done in the nonprofit sector (Community Centric Fundraising is not affiliated with MacKenzie Scott).
Read the full piece on Medium for the list of grantees and more information about how the organizations were chosen.
For more, read coverage in the New York Times.
Published: June 15, 2021