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Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios. Photo: Jörg Carstensen/picture alliance via Getty Images

After giving away $1.7 billion to social-justice organizations this summer, Mackenzie Scott announced this week that she has given away another $4.2 billion in the past four months, in the form of "immediate support to people suffering the economic effects of the crisis".

Why it matters: Scott is rapidly upending philanthropic norms. These gifts were "unsolicited and unexpected," she writes — while she and her team certainly did their homework on potential recipients, they didn't hand out questionnaires or solicit grant proposals, and all sums were "given with full trust and no strings attached."

What's next: Scott's original list had more than 6,000 names — and that's just domestic organizations. Scott's giving could easily continue to accelerate, especially since her largesse includes nonprofits like Give Directly and RIP Medical Debt, which are largely unconstrained in terms of how much money they can put to use almost immediately.

By the numbers: Scott has given away $5.9 billion this year, which is about 10% of her net worth. She has pledged to give away substantially all of her money, and she has made it clear that she's in a hurry to do so.

  • It took Chuck Feeney some 40 years to give away his $8 billion fortune, and he was 89 years old when he finally finished the project.
  • Scott is moving much faster. She's 50 now; it's entirely realistic to expect her wealth to reach zero (or whatever she needs to live on) long before she gets to retirement age.

That would constitute an astonishing achievement. As her fellow billionaire John Arnold tells Axios, giving away all your money quickly is harder than it looks. "Human nature is to always want growth," he says, and philanthropists always need to fight that urge.

  • Many smaller philanthropists take the opposite point of view. "I want my money to appreciate so I can do something big with it," says The Philanthropy Roundtable's Howard Husock, who has invested his charitable donations in a Vanguard DAF. "I want my money to appreciate in value over my lifetime."

The bottom line: A fast spend-down rate bespeaks a fundamentally optimistic person looking at the big picture.

  • It's a sign that you believe the world is getting better, that the time of greatest need is now, and that philanthropic donations will continue to rise rather than fall overall.
  • It's also a sign of humility. If you don't think you know better than future generations how to spend your money, then you shouldn't have any kind of posthumous say in where it goes.

Go deeper

Kaine, Collins' censure resolution seeks to bar Trump from holding office again

Sen. Tim Kaine (center) and Sen. Susan Collins (right). Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool via Getty Images

Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) are forging ahead with a draft proposal to censure former President Trump, and are considering introducing the resolution on the Senate floor next week.

Why it matters: Senators are looking for a way to condemn Trump on the record as it becomes increasingly unlikely Democrats will obtain the 17 Republican votes needed to gain a conviction, Axios Alayna Treene writes. "I think it’s important for the Senate's leadership to understand that there are alternatives," Kaine told CNN on Wednesday.

Stark reminder for America's corporate leaders

Rosalind "Roz" Brewer is about to become only the second Black woman to permanently lead a Fortune 500 company. She starts as Walgreens CEO on March 15.

Why it matters: It's a stark reminder of how far corporate America's top decision-makers have to go during an unprecedented push by politicians, employees and even a stock exchange to diversify their top ranks.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Updated 3 hours ago - Technology

Apple's quarterly sales top $100 billion for first time

Credit: Apple

Spurred by strong sales of the latest iPhones, Apple reported it took in a record $111 billion in revenue for the three months ended Dec. 31, as the company crushed expectations.

Why it matters: The move showed even a pandemic didn't dull demand for Apple's latest smartphones.