MacKenzie Scott Gives $436M to Habitat for Humanity — and Local Chapter Initially Thought It Was a 'Hoax'

When Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia first learned that there was a philanthropist who wanted to learn more about the nonprofit, they didn't believe it was real at first

MacKenzie Scott
MacKenzie Scott. Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty

MacKenzie Scott donated $436 million to Habitat for Humanity for her latest charitable gift.

Scott, 51, a philanthropist and ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, made the sizable donation to Habitat for Humanity International and 84 of its U.S. affiliate organizations, marking her largest publicly disclosed donation to date, according to the Associated Press.

Habitat for Humanity International stated in a press release that it will use its portion of the donation, $25 million, to "fundamentally increase the supply of affordable housing and to prioritize advocacy and programmatic efforts that support the millions of individuals increasingly shut out of the housing market."

MacKenzie Scott
MacKenzie Scott. Jörg Carstensen/picture alliance via Getty

"This incredibly generous gift will allow us to dramatically increase capacity and implement programs that will have a multi-generational impact on communities around the U.S. and our global mission for many years to come," Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International, said in a statement.

Reckford added, "With this donation, Habitat is well-positioned to meaningfully advocate for the systemic and societal changes needed to improve equitable access to affordable housing."

After first hearing that a philanthropist was interested in learning more about the work that they did, one local chapter initially thought it was too good to be true.

Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia CEO Corinne O'Connell recalled feeling suspicious of an email she received in February from an interested philanthropist, and at first thought it could be "a hoax," Axios reported.

However, of course the philanthropist turned out to be Scott, who donated $5 million to the chapter — their largest one-time gift — as part of her bigger gift, per the outlet

"Today, we celebrate, and tomorrow, we get back to building," O'Connell told Axios. "The power of this gift is that we don't have to pause."

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Scott's $436M gift is the latest in her string of donations since her divorce in 2019. Following their split, she kept a four percent stake in Amazon worth $38.3 billion at the time, and joined the Giving Pledge with other billionaires, all of whom pledged to donate half of their fortune to help those in need.

In July 2020, Scott shared that she had donated nearly $1.7 billion to various charities — including the Obama Foundation, Movement for Black Lives, Black Girls CODE, GLSEN, The Trevor Project, RAINN, Future Without Violent, Fund for Trans Generations, No Kid Hungry, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund — since her divorce.

Last month, Scott gave $133.5 million to help fund school services for at-risk students through the organization Communities in School, marking the largest donation the nonprofit has ever received.

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