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MacKenzie Scott gifts $436 million to Habitat for Humanity—her largest publicly disclosed donation to date 

Habitat for Humanity International and its 84 affiliates received a $436 million donation from author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.

Jonathan Reckford, the CEO of Habitat for Humanity International, said in a news release:

“This incredibly generous gift will allow us to dramatically increase capacity and implement programs that will have a multi-generational impact on communities around the U.S. and our global mission for many years to come.”

The organization said it would dedicate $25 million of the donation to produce more affordable housing and help “the millions of individuals increasingly shut out of the housing market” over the next three to four years.

“With this donation, Habitat is well-positioned to meaningfully advocate for the systemic and societal changes needed to improve equitable access to affordable housing,” Reckford said.

The money will also be used to bolster research and measurement efforts to determine best practices in maintaining home affordability and housing innovation.

The funding will also allow Habitat International to explore how new and existing programs result in better outcomes for families and individuals.

The cash gift will also support the nonprofit’s international work through its tithe program, through which U.S. affiliates are expected to give a portion of their unrestricted revenue every year to aid Habitat’s global ministry.

Last year, U.S. Habitat organizations tithed almost $14 million to support Habitat’s work worldwide.

“Habitat works to break down barriers and bring people together — to tear down obstacles and build a world where everyone, no matter who we are or where we come from, has a decent place to live,” Reckford said. “This tremendous gift helps make that work possible.”

Soon after her divorce from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in 2019, Scott, 51, promised to give away her wealth “until the safe is empty” by signing the Giving Pledge, following in the footsteps of other billionaires such as Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett.

At the time, Scott’s portion of the divorce settlement was 4% of Amazon shares, which was valued at around $34 billion. But the increasing value of that stock meant that Scott was earning money quicker than she could give it away.

By February, the generous philanthropist had donated $8.8 billion. According to Forbes, she is worth nearly $50 billion today.

In 2020, Scott, now married to Dan Jewett, also gave $1.7 billion to different causes and institutions, including historically Black colleges and universities, organizations that support LGBTQ equality and women’s rights, and efforts to fight racial inequity and climate change.

In 2021, she provided funding to organizations such as the Ballet Hispánico and the Apollo Theater, although she didn’t reveal the amounts. The Dance Theater of Harlem also received $10 million from Scott last year, and it said the gift was the largest in its history.

Scott has struggled with the media’s narratives of her philanthropy. Instead of focusing on the work of the organizations that she helps, the news tends to focus on the amounts of money she donates.

“People struggling against inequities deserve center stage in stories about change they are creating,” Scott wrote in a post on Medium last year, when she announced that she was giving away more than $2.7 billion to 286 organizations.

In December 2021, the kind philanthropist said she would no longer reveal the recipients of her gifts.

“I want to let each of these incredible teams speak for themselves first if they choose to, with the hope that when they do, media focuses on their contributions instead of mine,” she wrote in another Medium post.

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