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Can Your Nonprofit Access MacKenzie Scott Foundation Giving?

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Much has been written about the extraordinary grant-making of businesswoman MacKenzie Scott. To date, her Yield Giving foundation has granted over $14 billion to 1,600+ nonprofits to help them achieve their missions.

Scott is a member of the Giving Pledge. When she signed the pledge, she said:

“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.”

Previously, Ms. Scott’s team researched potential nonprofit awardees without disclosing the details of their review. Nonprofit CEOs who were awarded the funds noted the secrecy of the process and expressed their shock at receiving the incredible gifts. But now, Ms. Scott has announced a new “Open Call” initiative to invite community-focused nonprofit organizations to apply for aid directly.

Let’s review what your nonprofit needs to know about this new program and other details about Ms. Scott’s giving process.

About the Mackenzie Scott foundation Open Call

Launched on March 21, 2023, the $250 million MacKenzie Scott “Yield Giving Open Call” aspires to elevate organizations working with people and in places experiencing the greatest need in the United States.

The initiative seeks “community-led, community-focused organizations whose explicit purpose is to advance the voices and opportunities of individuals and families of meager or modest means, and groups who have met with discrimination and other systemic obstacles.” These organizations are invited to apply for the opportunity to undergo a review process and potentially be rewarded an unrestricted operating gift of $1 million.

Applicants will be evaluated on a predetermined scoring process that aims to decrease assessment bias. The scoring rubric focuses on equity, track record, community leadership, and team capacity.

Nonprofits must have an annual operating budget of at least $1 million and no more than $5 million for at least two of the last four fiscal years to be eligible.

Application timeline and review process

The registration period is now open. Organizations must register to apply before 4 p.m. U.S. Central Time on Friday, May 5, 2023. Finalized applications are due before 4 p.m. U.S. Central Time on Monday, June 12, 2023.

After applications are submitted, organizations will partake in an “Administrative Review” as well as a “Participatory Review” by other applicants. Then, in the fall of 2023, “up to 1,000 finalists top-rated by their peers will advance to a second round of review.” The second round will be conducted by “an external Evaluation Panel recruited for experience relevant to this cause.” In other words, a team of donors will select from among the organizations recommended by their peers and announce 250 awardees in early 2024.

Additional benefits of MacKenzie Scott donations

While an application is required to be considered for the $1 million unrestricted gifts (and ten hours is the estimated time it will take to complete the form), no financial or narrative reporting is required after receiving the award. Ms. Scott does her due diligence up front and then trusts each nonprofit to make the best decision on how the money is spent.

In addition, applicants may receive a $500 donor-advised fund contribution, but only if they participate in scoring the submissions of five fellow applicants and complete those assessments satisfactorily.

Full details about the application process, including FAQ, the organizational readiness tool, the timeline, the scoring process, the rules, and the evaluation panel are all available here.

Final thoughts

Some worry that this new initiative will be the fundraising equivalent of the Oklahoma land rush and that smaller nonprofits should not get their hopes up. They consider Ms. Scott more of an exhibitionist than a philanthropist.

I, however, am not among them. I applaud Ms. Scott’s generosity, openness, and earnestness. She is listening to us and adapting her giving.

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  • al brown

    If you build it they will come.

    I have been looking for generous donors like herself but no access through which I could have reached her. I am scared of what you have highlighted above just in case I might also get hoodwinked by scammers. Thanks
  • Rose Chivens

    I have been working for four years trying to get help to build a much needed Youth center in Marquette County of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Read my why on our website We need $15,000,000 to build and creat the best Youth Center in an area where it is desperately need our kids really have nothing to occupy their time. We to mentor them to dream again and give them hope to have courage to Live and at the same time teach them the importance of Kindness and Respect.
  • Kay Hegge

    "Nonprofits must have an annual operating budget of at least $1 million and no more than $5 million for at least two of the last four fiscal years to be eligible." If we had a million dollar operating budget, our mission would be completed. I am so sorry about this requirement. A lot of good projects will never get off the ground.
  • John

    Where to start? We volunteer at a after school program. Five to 12 years old. We currently serve 125 kids , snacks provided by east Texas food bank, we help with homework, crafts and outside fun. We need funding. We waste too much time trying to get funding when we could be working with kids. We are going to expand to 300 kids! Our community is 65% Hispanic and we meet ALL of Ms Scott’s visions. Boys and Girls Club backed out on us after we purchased our building so we took the leap of faith. Oh did I mention we need funding help. This is a great program and wish we could get a second look. Thank you
  • Cyrus Williams

    This is inspirational piece. Being new to development, I hunger for how to sustain our museum. This motivation helps. Thank you.
  • Linda Cerra

    Inspiring! Giving back to our communities gives such hope for the future.
  • Vatricia A McKinney

    I have been receiving text messages from someone claiming to be Ms. Scott personal assistant. Should I believe them or doI report it as a scam?
  • Meliha Avdic

    What if you've had someone contact you and claim that it's MacKenzie Scott but everything is odd, like a scam? Has anyone had experience with that?
  • Maureen Diederich

    Thank you for this article. It was very informative. Hopefully she finds us!
  • Carlotta Blount

    Thank you so much for posting this because I been searching for weeks could not determine what was correct. Very smart the way she is doing this process. It is a shame that people will criticize her because of her grant process. She has the right to decide how she gives her money. Thanks again for the greatly written article.
  • Cynthia Haymon

    Thank you for this detailed article. I have been wondering how to apply for grants from her organization since it announced her desire to assist nonprofits in underserved communities.
  • Nancy Torrison

    Thank you for this article, it has been difficult to understand how to apply for a grant, and now I know I can't so that is helpful.
  • L. Ernestine Fields, Esq.

    Thank you for a very informative article. It is very unusual NOT to have an application process in place. But for your article, I would have spent hours trying to find Mackenzie Scott's application "hidden" on the internet!
  • Andrea H

    Great article. I hope she stays strong and keep doing what she is doing. Not having a website etc might be a good idea - then she is not bombarded with reuests - allows her to be free to do what she wants.
  • Pamela Van Cortlandt

    Thank you for your very informative article.
  • Jessica Detor

    Would be great if there was a way to get topics shared for funding interest. We have a mental health access issue in my area for youth that has recently taken lives by suicide. (I know this is not just the case in my town).
  • Christine Pharr

    I wish that I had a way to get her attention because I lead a small college that is majority minority, that has very under resourced students and that is in Milwaukee which is known as the most segregated city In the country. We fit the demographic of everything she is funding and yet I don’t know how to get her attention. I would love to talk to her if she would ever give me the opportunity. My school is Mount Mary University and we are the number one university in the midwest for social mobility. This means we graduate a higher percentage of low income students Than anyone else in the Midwest. I would appreciate any advice about how to get her or her advisers to notice us because we are doing what she values!
  • How Mackenzie Scott Managed Her Money... | Qrius

    […] nearly all donors operating on a big scale, she has no offices and, so far, no website. She’s been criticized for a lack of transparency, especially after she didn’t divulge details […]
  • Shoshana Reuben

    There is a scam foundation site impersonating her and her husband that people should be aware of. Thank you for putting here that she does not have a website or application process. That fake site wants the grant writer to include a copy of their driver's license! No telling how many other fake sites are out there because she doesn't have a real site.
  • Vincent D.Stravino

    Good article about a secretive but generous philanthropy. Informative and well written.
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