The Giving Gap in Philanthropy

MacKenzie Scott

Novelist and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott made headlines as it was announced that she has donated over $4 billion to charitable organizations—in just the last four months. It seems that Scott has become a philanthropic rock star, clearly showing that she can put her money where her mouth is. In an article she wrote for Medium, Scott so accurately says, “Economic losses and health outcomes alike have been worse for women, for people of color, and for people living in poverty. Meanwhile, it has substantially increased the wealth of billionaires.”

Unfortunately, not all billionaires have been this determined to close the inequality gap. Take Scott’s ex-husband, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, for example. Bezos, the world’s richest man, has faced criticism for what seems to be noticeably small giving. Bezos is also the only American amongst the world’s five richest people to not sign the Giving Pledge—a pledge where the wealthy have agreed to donate a majority of their wealth to charity during their lifetimes or in their will. This stark contrast had made some people wonder—is there a gender gap in philanthropy?

The evidence suggests there is. Research indicates that women tend to be more altruistic than men, are more interested in giving to charity for social change rather than self-interest, and are more likely to view money to represent security rather than power. These facts show that, yes, it would be amazing to have more wealthy women because they are more likely to use money for social change. But it’s also important that we don’t just accept the statement men are “less empathetic.”

In fact, we need to continue the work to make sure that empathy is no longer a gendered quality. MacKenzie Scott is doing what many affluent men have not. But imagine how impactful it would be if we could get more men on board with the kind of effort she has been making. Institute of Policy Studies’ Chuck Collins says,”[Scott is] putting to shame the other 650 U.S. billionaires who haven’t figured out comparable ways to boldly share.” Let’s hope these billionaires figure that out sooner than later.

Take Action! We don’t have to accept that men are slacking when it comes to social responsibility. Until there’s economic inequality for all, let’s demand that more men in power contribute to the social good.