Lessons from famous female philanthropists

How we can give big – and give smart.

MacKenzie Scott made headlines when she gave part of her Amazon fortune away after divorcing Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. And she’s not the only woman who’s made waves in the philanthropy space. Melinda French Gates and Priscilla Chan are just two women that shine in their own right.

Wondering how you can follow in their footsteps by blazing your own philanthropic trail?

Do your due diligence

Upon her divorce from Bezos, MacKenzie was praised for the colossal donations she made to charity. In particular, she was hailed for the variety of charities she gave to – and the depth of research she conducted before committing to those charities.

The lesson to take from MacKenzie’s approach is to conduct your due diligence before donating to an organisation, regardless of how much you donate. Be sure the charity aligns with your values and is fulfilling your philanthropic objectives. MacKenzie evaluates organisations based on their “potential for sustained positive impact” and analyses finances, outcomes and whether the leadership is representative of the community served. Your criteria can differ, but having your own methodology will ensure you’re supporting organisations doing work that’s meaningful to you.

Give collectively

Bill Gates himself has reportedly said he probably wouldn’t have contributed as much to charity without the urging of his (now ex-) wife Melinda. She’s known for collaborating with others on charitable endeavours (beyond the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), such as founding – with Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway – the Maverick Collective, an organisation that has contributed more than $1 million to women’s health.

Melinda’s approach illustrates that collective giving is a powerful tool to make your contributions go further. There are many “giving circles,” or organisations focused on identifying local giving opportunities or specific causes. Giving Compass publishes a directory listing more than 2,500 giving circles that are changing the world. Community Foundation can also guide your giving journey.

Create your own giving entity

From supporting education and technology to funding healthcare and science, Priscilla Chan and her husband, Facebook cofounder Mark Zuckerberg, are among the most generous philanthropists. Together, they have a philanthropic limited liability company called the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative that includes investment, charity and advocacy arms.

Priscilla’s approach of creating a giving entity can be a great option for the right financial situation. Want to involve your children? Ask them to recommend charities so they feel like they have a say – and the power to make a difference.

While you can look to each of these women for inspiration, dig deep to discover what will work best for you and help you reach your own giving goals.

Next steps

As you embark on your philanthropic journey:

– Take the time to conduct due diligence for any organisation you plan to donate to

– Consider joining a giving circle to maximise impact

– Talk with your wealth manager about whether creating a charitable vehicle is right for your financial situation