Melinda French Gates vs. MacKenzie Scott - Which Tech Philanthropist Gives More?
Rated by her overall mission, how much she has given so-far, and to what causes.
It’s the match of Tech Philanthropist #Sheros
Sometimes we forget that women, on average, outlive men by 7 years. And before we outlive them, we tend to out-give them too. Our philanthropic efforts might be by-way of a large family donation, anonymous check, or time, energy, and community support.
Two of the wealthiest women in the world, Melinda French Gates and MacKenzie Scott, both succumbed to wealth by-way of divorcing their ex-husbands (Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos). And both husbands built these world-renowned endowments by-way of technology. But it’s their ex-wives who are exemplifying what it means to be a tech philanthropist in the 21st century. Today, we see head-to-head, toe-to-toe, who gives more?
Melinda Gates: Historically known as half of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Melinda French Gates recently cited how she will no longer give the bulk of her billions to the Gates Foundation. Still Co-Chair alongside her ex-husband, the Foundation continues to be “a nonprofit fighting poverty, disease, and inequity around the world.” It’s formal mission; to create a world where every person has the opportunity to live a healthy, productive life. Still, Ms. French Gates has zeroed-in on enterprises she personally finds to be a top priority among top priorities. She launched Pivotal Ventures in 2015 to focus on issues surrounding women and families. They are thorough in their research, partnering with authorities even more attuned in their branches of expertise. Melinda has made it known she would like to use her wealth to create equitable opportunity for all lives in the US.
MacKenzie Scott: For every dollar her ex-husband made, Mackenzie is dropping that dollar like it’s hot. After receiving $35 billion from the divorce in 2019, MacKenzie pledged to give away her fortune. She wrote an open letter citing one of her favorite passages from author Annie Dillard, “Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book… The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now.” MacKenzie went on to conclude in her Giving Pledge letter, “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.” Her mission so far seems to be to give it fast, directly, without a lot of overhead, to the people that have first-hand experience with their life trials.
How Much Has She Given?
Melinda Gates: Being half of the head of the Foundation, which has given away $53.8 billion since 2000, Melinda has dipped more than her toe into Philanthropic waters. Today, She’s estimated to be worth more than $11billion. $1 billion of which will be given to promote gender equality in the next four years. And though she still plans to give the bulk of her wealth away before she dies, she has also committed to doing more than just writing checks, “I also commit my time, energy and efforts to the work of fighting poverty and advancing equality -- for women and girls and other marginalized groups -- in the United States and around the world.” Melinda has 20+ years of giving BIG TIME. And is planning on continuing to give, not just her capital, but with intangibles too. She’s pretty impressive.
MacKenzie Scott: If Melinda is the example of how to strategically and methodically give away a fortune, MacKenzie is the example of how to hurry up and get-it-done! After divorcing a seemingly non-philanthropist (more on this later), MacKenzie became the world’s 3rd wealthiest woman. She immediately signed the Giving Pledge - agreeing to give away her fortune “until the safe is empty”. And she started quickly. In her first year as a solo-philanthropist, she dropped $1.7 billion dollars. Today, she is the world’s 22nd wealthiest person - worth $59 billion dollars. And she still gives it like it’s going-out-of-style. Scott announced in 2020 she had given away $8.5 billion. There’s no holding back!
What Causes Move Her to Give the big bucks?
Melinda Gates: Melinda French Gates’ Pivotal Ventures is very transparent with their direct work with women, girls, and families. And it’s clear Melinda wants to transition her investments and future capital gain away from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to Pivotal Ventures in the future. The fund is very transparent and acknowledges few of their endeavours straight on their website:
Women in Technology and Innovation Gender Equality in Tech Cities,
Women in Public Office: partners working to recruit, empower, and train,
Women and Girls of Color: breaking down the barriers,
Paid Family and Medical Leave: working to pass a comprehensive federal paid leave policy,
Caregiving: Techstars Future of Longevity Accelerator,
By using both philanthropic and investment capital, Melinda and her team at Pivotal Ventures are transforming ideas, people, organizations and culture.
MacKenzie Scott: In 2019, MacKenzie gave that initial round of $1.7 billion to 116 organizations working in areas of interest to her, from racial justice and LGBTQ equality to climate change and global health. She has publicly mentioned that “all the organizations listed are established nonprofits, selected for their leadership’s track record of effective management and significant impact in their fields.” The largest area of grants — $586.7 million — went to organizations working on racial equity, including but not exclusive to historically black colleges and universities. In 2020 Scott donated to GiveDirectly, a nonprofit that gives people cash, no strings attached, and which has dramatically expanded its operations this year in order to help people around the world deal with the coronavirus crisis. And in late 2021, MacKenzie gifts $133.5 million in unrestricted donations to Communities in Schools (CIS), a national network of nonprofit groups that work out of 2,900 high-poverty schools in 26 states and D.C. to provide academic and support services. Generally speaking, MacKenzie selects organizations vetted by the leadership. The organizations should be run by people who have had first hand effects by the injustices Scott targeted as priorities. These priorities include, but are not limited to racial-equity, LGBTQ+ equity, and gender-equity organizations. She feels the leadership, having already lived through an imbalanced social systems, know how to best use the funds.
What’s even more powerful? Two #Sheros combining philanthropic missions and money. In 2021, Melinda French Gates and MacKenzie Scott united to give $40 million to projects focused on advancing gender equality in tech, higher education, minority communities and caregiving. We love this!
So who gives more? Though each has her own style, we call this a draw. Both Melinda French Gates and MacKenzie Scott are powerful leaders, setting examples for all tech philanthropists. They're strategic, put action against their words, and are truly changing our world for the better. We cannot wait to witness the world-wide impact these two women will have in the coming decades.