Billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott’s recent open call for grants has sparked an overwhelming response. More than 6,000 nonprofit organizations across the United States vying for the chance to secure a generous $1 million grant. The initiative, overseen by nonprofit Lever for Change, has drawn applications from every state. In early 2024, the 250 fortunate grant recipients will be announced, and the impact is expected to be transformative for these organizations.
MacKenzie Scott has earned acclaim for her innovative approach to philanthropy, revolutionizing traditional giving since 2019 when she pledged to donate her substantial wealth following her divorce from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. With more than $14 billion already donated to 1,600 nonprofit organizations, her unrestricted contributions have made a significant difference in various sectors. According to Forbes, her current net worth exceeds $36 billion.
In a groundbreaking move, Scott’s organization, Yield Giving, launched its first-ever call for grant applications in March. This allows nonprofits an unprecedented opportunity to apply for support. Prior to this, Scott and her team of advisors personally selected and vetted the recipients. While this open call presents new possibilities, it also intensifies the competition among nonprofits, eager to earn Scott’s backing.
However, some nonprofits have expressed concerns regarding the application criteria. Melanie Lambert, a seasoned nonprofit fundraiser running her own grant writing consulting business, voiced her disappointment. With the applications limited to organizations with budgets ranging from $1 million to $5 million. She argued that this limitation might inadvertently exclude smaller organizations that would be significantly impacted by such funding.
Cecilia Conrad, CEO of Lever for Change, clarified that their focus was on organizations that have a tangible and meaningful impact on people’s lives. Scott’s philanthropic efforts aim to support initiatives that align with her vision of creating a positive and transformative change in society.
The timing of this open call is crucial for nonprofits as they grapple with inflation and seek to replace government funding. Giving USA’s recent report revealed a decline in charitable donations in 2022, creating an added sense of urgency to secure additional support.
While many nonprofits eagerly embrace the opportunity to apply for Scott’s support, others have chosen not to participate. Reasons for non participation include alignment issues with their organizational missions. Danielle Gletow, founder of One Simple Wish, evaluated the application but felt it was better suited for community-led initiatives.
With thousands of applications received, Lever for Change faces the challenge of evaluating them within the designated timeframe. Their peer review process will involve applicants assessing five other applications, leading to 1,000 finalists. The finalists will be evaluated by a panel with MacKenzie Scott and Lever for Change selecting the winning organizations. Winners will be chosen based on their scores and alignment with Scott’s philanthropic goals.
The open call for grants presents an unparalleled opportunity for nonprofits to secure transformative funding. It also underscores the competitive landscape and the responsibility to assess the resources required for each application carefully.
Source: This news post is adapted from an article on Fortune magazine. Please visit: Billionaire Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott’s First Open Call for Grants Yields Over 6,000 Applications