Power Players

Seattle's Famous, and Not-So-Famous, Philanthropists

The donations of the Gates and Bezos clans are scrutinized around the world. Can you name other members of the city's moneyed elite?

By Benjamin Cassidy December 9, 2021

Name That Seattle Plutocrat (Family)

Click footnote or see bottom of page for answers.

A. Could still be counting their (coffee) beans. Instead gave restaurant workers cash relief during Covid.

B. Timmmmmber!

C. Truck tycoons with a penchant for the arts.

D. Patriarch owns an NBA team and weird dance moves. Family donates dollars to fighting poverty nationwide.

E . Ex-Microsofties who back efforts to end youth homelessness.

F. Fashion fanatics. Come on.

G. The ones with the global foundation and nasty divorce.

H. The ones with the Prime shares and, er, revealing divorce, which reminds us….

MacKenzie Scott Pulls Strings

The billionaire’s almost unconditional donations have put other philanthropists on notice.

Not to be crass, but we can say she won the divorce now, right? While her ex-hubby has played with his phallic rocket and toyed with a mega yacht, MacKenzie Scott has busied herself with giving away the fortune accrued from her 4 percent stake in Amazon. In just a year’s time, she’s transferred $8.5 billion of her roughly $60 billion net worth to hundreds of nonprofits, many of them small operations serving communities of color. “I won’t wait,” she wrote when she signed the Giving Pledge.

Which isn’t to say she’s doling out dollars willy-nilly. Over a four-month span in 2020, she and her advisors vetted 6,490 organizations for gifts. Only 384 made the cut. But unlike many major contributions, recipients aren’t gaining a micromanager along with the cash. The money arrives with few, if any, strings attached. “It enabled us to really say, where is this needed most?” says Pride Foundation CEO Katie Carter.

The Seattle-based organization received $3 million from Scott in 2020. It immediately magnified grants to advance equity and justice for LGBTQ people across the Northwest. Local organizations, like the Lavender Rights Project’s Washington Black Trans Task Force, could address violence and housing problems faced by communities in crisis. A 36-year-old foundation could suddenly make more multiyear commitments. “It was transformational,” says Carter.

Scott’s interest is often a total surprise—an unprompted email or call from her people, which is “highly unusual, to say the least,” says Adam Zimmerman, president and CEO of Craft3. For the nonprofit that makes loans to those who’ve struggled to access credit, Scott’s $10 million gift nearly equaled its typical annual budget.

Scott’s considered contributions have raised the bar for other philanthropists, most notably Jeff Bezos. Her promise to donate a majority of her wealth came just one month after her split from the Amazon founder. Bezos has yet to sign the pledge, and though he’s recently made some major shell-outs, Scott has still far outpaced his giving.

He can have the boat.


Plutocrat Answers

A. The Schultzes
B. The Weyerhaeusers
C. The Pigotts
D. The Ballmers
E. The Raikeses
F. The Nordstroms
G. The couple previously known as the Gateses
H. The couple previously known as the Bezoses

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