Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott donated $84.5 million to Girl Scouts of the USA and 29 of its local branches, the 110-year-old organization announced, calling it a vote of confidence.
“Her support of our organization means honestly just as much as the donation,” Sofia Chang, CEO of GSUSA, said in an interview.
It’s the largest donation the Girl Scouts have received from an individual since their founding in 1912, she said. The funds will help the organization recover from the impact of the pandemic, which drove down membership. The Girl Scouts plan to support volunteers and staff, make camp properties more resistant to the impacts of climate change, improve science and technology education for youth members and develop diversity and inclusion programming to make their troops more accessible.
The Girl Scout council in Southern Arizona decided to use the $1.4 million it received from Scott to elevate the work they are already doing rather than to start a new program or initiative, said its CEO Kristen Garcia-Hernandez.
“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,” Garcia-Hernandez said.
The gift accelerates their plan to hire more staff to reach most places in the seven counties they serve in under an hour and provide programming year-round. The council will also outfit a van as a mobile science and technology classroom, a project they have tried to fund for a year and a half. Many local funders seem to think that the Girl Scout’s cookie sales cover their expenses, she said.
“While the cookie program sustains us certainly and it’s wonderful and the girls are part of that process, which makes it even more beautiful, we certainly need more from the community,” Garcia-Hernandez said.
Major gifts from women like philanthropists Melinda French Gates, Sheryl Sandberg and Scott will hopefully inspire other donors.
Scott communicates infrequently about her giving, which has totaled around $12 billion since 2019.
She has donated large, unrestricted grants to a variety of organizations, though her gifts have had a special focus on racial equity.
Scott also made a blockbuster $275 million gift to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its affiliates this year.
Humble “Queen of Philanthropy” Mackenzie Scott was featured on the cover of Lifestyles Magazine/Meaningful Influence