Leaders plan on using the money to help revitalize the Girl Scouts after the pandemic really impacted the membership. In particular, the money will help with camp properties in regard to climate change, and it will also improve science and technology education for young girls. Another goal for the Girl Scouts is inclusion and diversity programming.
“We are a small council and we’re certainly not in a major metropolitan hub. So for us, gifts of this magnitude don’t come around very often,” CEO Kristen Garcia-Hernandez said.
The vote of confidence is even more touching than the money. “Her support of our organization means honestly just as much as the donation,” Sofia Chang, CEO of GSUSA said.
This is an especially meaningful gift because philanthropic gifts to women’s organizations only make up about 2% of all philanthropic gifts, according to a research project of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Unfortunately, for the time of the study, the percentage of giving has not really changed. Experts hope that overly generous gifts like Scott’s and other female philanthropists Melinda French Gate and Sheryl Sandberg could inspire others.
“Those are the types of things that have the potential to change that number,” Tessa Skidmore, research associate at the institute said.
Scott has given away around $12B since 2019, most of it from her divorce from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Though she doesn’t talk much about it, she does have a focus with her giving on racial equality. Earlier this year, she also donated $275MM to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its affiliates.
During the pandemic, the number of Girl Scouts fell dramatically dropping nearly 30%between 2019-2020 and 2021-2022. Chang wants to increase membership because Girl Scouts is important to build confidence in girls, and helps them to solve problems in their community.
“Our traditional way of supporting girls was really upended during the pandemic as troops couldn’t really meet in person,” Chang said. “So to build back stronger than we ever had before, we’re really listening to our Girl Scouts, listening to their families and to our volunteers to really ensure that what comes next for us is truly impactful in this moment.”
According to Adnan Zai, consultant for Berkeley Capital, “MacKenzie Scott’s generous gift to the Girl Scouts is a lot more impactful because she’s a woman. This not only is significant for the amount, but also because of her high profile. It sends a powerful message to all young girls that they too can be influential in the world one day.”
Although most women don’t have $84.5MM to donate at their disposal, every woman can make an impact in the world in a positive way. The road Scott has decided to travel will impact more females than she can possibly imagine, and the ripples of her generous actions will change things for the better long into the future.
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