Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott Gives $15 Million to Fistula Foundation

Scott is known for her generous donations and "unrestricted" model of philanthropy.

MacKenzie Scott poses on red carpet in red dress.
MacKenzie Scott’s newest gift will support obstetric fistula treatment. Taylor Hill/FilmMagic

MacKenzie Scott, the philanthropist behind billions of dollars worth of charitable contributions in the past four years, is giving away another $15 million. 

The gift will fund the San Jose-based Fistula Foundation. The non-profit offers treatment and surgeries for obstetric fistula, a medical condition that can occur in women during childbirth and causes chronic urinary or fecal incontinence. Scott’s donation will fuel the Fistula Foundation’s five-year plan to provide 80,000 surgeries to women across sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, expand its model to five new countries and add 40 new surgery and outreach organizations.

“Our hearts burst with gratitude for Ms. Scott’s gift,” said Kate Grant, CEO of the non-profit, in a statement. “Because of her generosity, we have a vital down payment on our plan to end—within a generation—the suffering caused by fistula.”

Scott, who became one of the wealthiest women in the world after divorcing Amazon (AMZN) founder Jeff Bezos in 2019, has since focused on giving away her $27.1 billion fortune.

In March, she launched an open call for non-profits to request $1 million in donations from Yield Giving, her charitable foundation, which plans to give the grants to 250 organizations. And in 2022 alone, Scott gave $18 million to Tacoma Public Schools, $15 million to Friends of the Children and $12 million to Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, among other donations.

The Amazon shareholder has given more than $14 billion to more than 1,600 non-profits in the past few years, with $586 million of these gifts focused on racial equality and $400 million going towards economic mobility, according to a 2020 blog post from Scott.

In addition to its scale, Scott’s philanthropy is differentiated by its unrestricted nature, meaning the billionaire does not have a say in how her donations are specifically spent by a non-profit. This approach is symbolized by the name Yield Profit, which was “named after a belief in adding value by giving up control,” according to its website.

Scott’s recent gift to the Fistula Foundation comes without restrictions or “bureaucratic strings,” said Grant. While the majority of her philanthropy has focused on U.S. initiatives, the Fistula Foundation is one of the few recipients that works exclusively in developing countries.

How does MacKenzie Scott’s philanthropy compare to that of Jeff Bezos?

Scott’s former husband has also focused on charitable initiatives in recent years, launching the Bezos Earth Fund in 2020 with a $10 million pledge. The organization, which made the largest-ever philanthropic commitment to fight climate change, has given out $1.6 million in grants so far.

Bezos also created the Day One Fund in 2018 with a $2 billion commitment to create preschools and help homeless families, with more than $521 million awarded to the latter project thus far. And in November he awarded $100 million to Dolly Parton to give away for charitable causes of her choice.

But donations from Bezos, the world’s third richest person with a net worth of $144 billion, pale in comparison to those of his ex-wife. His lifetime philanthropic contributions of $2.4 billion as of December are just one-fifth of Scott’s gifts in the past two years, according to Forbes.

The Amazon founder has also long been criticized for not signing the Giving Pledge, a campaign signed by Scott in 2019 that encourages billionaires to give away at least half of their fortunes over their lifetimes.

“I have no doubt that tremendous value comes when people act quickly on the impulse to give,” said Scott in her pledge letter. “In addition to whatever assets life has nurtured in me, I have a dispropriate amount of money to share.”

While Bezos still hasn’t signed up for the campaign, he recently shed some light on his future charitable plans in a November interview with CNN, where the billionaire said he will eventually give away the majority of his money throughout this lifetime. He added that he is still developing how this plan will take shape, describing donating to charity as “really hard.”

Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott Gives $15 Million to Fistula Foundation