Philanthropist Mackenzie Scott donated $84.5 million to the Girl Scouts of the USA and its 29 local branches, the 110-year-old organization said Tuesday in what it called a vote of confidence. The donation comes as the scouting group is facing a loss of membership during the pandemic.
“Their support for our organization means just as much as a sincere charity,” GSUSA CEO Sophia Chang said in an interview.
He said Scott’s gift to the Girl Scouts is the largest donation the Girl Scouts have received from an individual since its inception in 1912. Fund organization i. will help you overcome, the group said in a statement on Tuesday. During the crisis, its membership fell by almost 30% from about 1.4 million in 2019-2020 to just over 1 million in 2021-2022.
The group said the donation will be used to support volunteers and staff, make camp properties more resistant to the effects of climate change, improve science and technology education for youth members, and make their troops more accessible to diversity and Inclusion will be for developing programming.
Chang acknowledged the decline in membership but made the case that the organization’s programs consistently help girls build confidence and deal with problems in their community.
“Our traditional way of supporting girls really evolved during the pandemic because soldiers couldn’t really meet in person,” Chang said. “So to make it stronger than ever, we are really listening to our Girl Scouts, their families and our volunteers to really make sure that what comes next for us is truly in this moment. I’m impressive.”
The Girl Scout Council in southern Arizona decided to use the $1.4 million it received from Scott instead of launching a new program or initiative that they’re already doing, said its CEO Kristen García-Hernandez.
García-Hernández said, “We are a small council and we are certainly not in a large metropolitan center. So for us, gifts of this magnitude don’t come very often.”
The gift accelerates their plan to hire more employees to reach most locations in the seven counties where they serve less than an hour and provide year-round programming. The council will also design a van as a mobile science and technology classroom, a project they have tried to fund for a year and a half. She said that many local funders find that selling Girl Scout cookies will cover their expenses.
García-Hernandez said, “While the cookie program definitely keeps us going and it’s wonderful and the girls are part of that process, which makes it even more beautiful, we definitely need more from the community.”
Giving to groups that serve women and girls
According to a research project by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, philanthropic donations to organizations specifically serving women and girls represent less than 2% of all donations. The institute found that the ratio did not change significantly between 2012 and 2019, the years the study tracked.
The institute’s research associate Tessa Skidmore said major gifts from women like philanthropists Melinda French Gates, Sheryl Sandberg and Scott could inspire other donors.
“Those are the types of things that have the potential to change that number,” she said.
The institute partnered with Pivotal Ventures and others, the investment firm founded by French Gates, to promote giving to women and girls on the International Day of the Girl Child, marked on October 11 each year. It shares its data in the hope that donors or researchers will use it as a way of evaluating gender equality in charities.
Scott communicates frequently about his giving, which has grown to nearly $12 billion since 2019. She has donated large, unrestricted grants to many people.Her gifts, however, have a special focus on racial equality.
“Helping any one of us can help all of us,” Scott said in a blog post earlier this year about giving it to her.
Scott also gave a $275 million blockbuster gift this year to the Planned Parenthood Union of America and its partners.
In September, ScottFrom her second husband, Dan Jewett, whose profile was also removed from the website of The Giving Pledge, a group that asks billionaires to give away more than half their wealth in their lifetime. The former couple wrote on the site last year about their intention to jointly bequeath Scott’s fortune, which largely comes from his divorce from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.