Treasure chest of money.
Fundraising Published Date, 2023

MacKenzie Scott’s ‘Open Call’: What To Know And How To Respond

Created By: Hannah Roerden
May 1, 2023

On March 31, 2023, MacKenzie Scott announced a new giving initiative through Yield Giving in an ‘open call’ for grant applications with a $250M funding pool available for US-based nonprofit organizations with annual operating budgets ranging from $1M – $5M. The initiative is geared towards supporting organizations addressing systemic inequities and promoting long-term change in underserved communities that face historically high barriers to funding.

We recently participated in Marcum LLP’s ‘readiness assessment’ webinar to stay updated on the latest insights regarding the processes, requirements, and evaluation elements. Drawing on our extensive experience with mega-philanthropy, as well as our in-depth understanding of current sector trends and broad economic and financial expertise, we have identified five key takeaways to guide your nonprofit through this process with confidence.

1. Who Is MacKenzie Scott?

With a net worth of $29.5B to date, MacKenzie Scott is one of the most influential figures in philanthropy. Through her generosity, she has provided over $14B in donations to over 1,600 nonprofits, making her the 4th most generous giver in 2023. Her ‘no strings attached’, trust-based approach to philanthropy has refreshed and inspired fellow philanthropists like Bill Gates, Melinda French Gates, Michael Bloomberg, Jack Dorsey, and others.

MacKenzie Scott’s unrestricted gifts have allowed organizations to completely transform their goals, re-shape their programming, and think bigger and bolder. Our experience working with nonprofits of various missions has shown us that common threads often emerge among organizations that have received transformative philanthropic gifts. We have worked with organizations such as New Profit and Grameen America to help position them to eventually receive gifts like those from MacKenzie Scott. Additionally, we have partnered with organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Black Girls CODE, Co-Impact, Echoing Green, and KABOOM! after they received MacKenzie Scott’s giving to help them maximize the potential impact of these gifts. Across all of these organizations, we have found that having a compelling vision, a dynamic ‘salesforce,’ and access to prospects with capacity are key factors in securing significant philanthropic gifts and creating long-lasting impact.

2. What Opportunity is Presented In This ‘Open Call’ Initiative?

The available funding for this initiative is significant and transformative for eligible nonprofits. At the end of the selection process, 250 organizations will be chosen to receive $1M in funding. The ‘open call’ approach presents an excellent opportunity for organizations to advocate for themselves and make their case for support directly to key decision-makers. Beyond the chance to secure major funding, this process could lead to valuable exposure and potential future opportunities for the organizations involved.

3. What Eligibility & Requirements Are There?

Unique to this latest giving initiative from MacKenzie Scott, nonprofits need to meet specific criteria to qualify for the Yield Giving ‘open call’. To be considered for this philanthropic opportunity, organizations must have the following:

  • A primary focus on activities or operations in the United States. Organizations based outside of the United States for more than 10% of their activities or operations will not be considered.
  • A 501(c)(3) organization, a 501(a)(1) or (2) organization, or a Type I or Type II supporting organization under section 501(a)(3). Other eligible entities include fiscally sponsored nonprofit organizations, private operating foundations, or tribal governments treated as a state under Internal Revenue Code Section 7871.
  • An annual operating budget of at least $1M and no more than $5M for two or more of the past five years.
  • Clearly demonstrated and proven track record of effectively using funds and making a measurable impact.

>> Not sure if you’re eligible? Take Yield Giving’s Organizational Readiness Tool.

4. Which Type of Organizations Are Ideal Candidates?

This open call is geared toward uplifting community-led, community-focused organizations with the specific purpose of empowering and uplifting individuals and families by providing essential resources to improve their overall well-being. Resources may include access to healthcare, affordable and stable housing, education, vocational training, support for sustainable employment, asset ownership, civic engagement, and other vital pathways to prosperity. Strong candidates will be able to prove their impact and dedication to advancing the opportunities of America’s most vulnerable.

5. What is the Application Process like?

When applying for a grant, it is crucial to convey your organization’s mission, values, specific goals, and innovative approaches for addressing the target issue. To ensure success, consider the scoring rubric used in the evaluation process, which focuses on elements such as equity, track record, leadership in the community, and capacity for continued success. It is also essential to allocate enough time and resources for the application process, which may take over 10 hours.

Additionally, the assessment tool will ensure that eligible organizations have a clear purpose of improving the well-being of vulnerable individuals and communities and demonstrate authentic community leadership. It’s important to note that some organizations are ineligible, including schools, religious organizations, political or campaign-based organizations, and organizations that have previously received funding from MacKenzie Scott. Companies with interim leadership, lawsuits, or negative media may still apply but may be subject to further review.

>> Learn more about Yield Giving’s Rules & Terms and Conditions

So – ready to take the next step and submit your application? Here are some important dates to keep in mind:

  • Registration Deadline: May 5th 4:00 p.m. U.S. CT, 2023
  • Application Deadline: June 12th 4:00 p.m. U.S. CT, 2023
  • Administrative Review:  June to July 2023
  • Participatory Review: July to August 2023
  • Evaluation Panel Review: September to October 2023
  • Selection of Awards: November to Early 2024
  • Award Announcement: March 2024

This latest initiative from MacKenzie Scott represents a continuation of the changing philanthropic landscape, wherein power is being reallocated through investment back to grantees, local communities, and systems in need – all in service of creating a healthier and more equitable nonprofit sector.

Want to attract major gifts like these? Orr Group has the experience and expertise to help you strategize and implement effective development programs to transform your fundraising. Contact us to learn more.

Hannah Roerden is an intern on the firm’s Growth Team. Hannah supports Orr Group’s comprehensive growth efforts in the areas of marketing and communications, business development, and research and prospecting. 

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