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Goodwill receives $10 million donation from MacKenzie Scott

Goodwill of the Finger Lakes has received $10 million from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.

Jennifer Lake
Jennifer Lake

“We are absolutely thrilled — and humbled — to share that our organization has received a $10 million gift from Ms. Scott,” said Goodwill CEO Jennifer Lake. “The gift is the result of our mission, our work, our team, our impact and our potential. It is by far the largest single donation in our 100-plus year history.”

Scott is an American novelist who is perhaps most known for her marriage and divorce from Founder Jeff Bezos. As one of the most wealthy women in the world, Scott in May 2019 signed the Giving Pledge, a charitable giving campaign in which she willingly committed to giving away most of her wealth to charity over her life or in her will.

“Because of Ms. Scott’s generosity and belief in Goodwill of the Finger Lakes, we have an opportunity to truly innovate, invest and support our community on a broader level,” Lake said. “With this extraordinary philanthropic gift, we will be able to fuel our community-based programs and social enterprise, provide job opportunities and continue to grow our footprint and impact in our region. Most importantly, we will remain true to our mission: To prepare and empower people with barriers to independence to be self-sufficient and contribute to their families and communities.”

Lake noted that Goodwill’s board of directors will lead a process to develop a multi-year strategic plan. Together with community input, the organization plans to determine the best use and investment for the funding.

“In the shorter term, as our own manufacturing, foodservice and retail social enterprises continue to be challenged financially because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this donation gives us the confidence to continue investing in the programs and services that our community depends on, especially during these difficult times,” Lake said.

Scott’s 2020 charitable giving totaled $5.8 billion, one of the largest annual distributions by a private individual to working charities. In December, Scott gifted the United Way of Greater Rochester with $20 million in unrestricted funds. Goodwill at the time was notified it, too, would receive funding, but the dollar amount was unknown.

“This is an extraordinary moment for our organization and our community. Ms. Scott’s gift is an affirmation of the hard work and effectiveness of the entire Goodwill of the Finger Lakes family. I am thrilled for Jennifer and her team to be able to put this transformational gift to work for our community,” said Goodwill Board Chair Susan Kitchen.

Added Lake: “Together, Goodwill of the Finger Lakes and United Way of Greater Rochester are committed to investing the gift back into our community. Ms. Scott has given me — has given all of us — a renewed sense of hope and confidence in our future. We will make our community better for it. This was her hand-up, just like Mr. Helms gave to so many in the early days of Goodwill.”

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