LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Christmas came early for two Kentucky nonprofits, Goodwill Industries of Kentucky and Metro United Way, as they both received unsolicited donations from writer and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. Goodwill Industries of Kentucky received $10 million while Metro United Way received $20 million, both the largest individual gifts ever received by either organization.

What You Need To Know

  • Novelist and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott donated $10 million to Goodwill Industries of Kentucky

  • Scott also donated $20 million to Metro United Way

  • Both are the largest individual gifts either organization has received

  • Scott has donated $4.1 billion over the past four months

"Christmas came early for us in a really special way at an incredible time when people are looking for hope, we have 10 million reasons to share and spread hope with people at a time where they need it most,” said DeVone Holt, the vice president of external affairs for Goodwill Industries of Kentucky.

Holt said the money will be used to support its mission to help people with significant life challenges improve their quality of life through employment.

Theresa Reno-Weber, president and CEO of Metro United Way, praised Scott's donation.

"Ms. Scott’s transformational gift tells us that she believes in the longstanding work and powerful impact of our staff, partners and volunteers,” said Reno-Weber. “She believes in the generosity and commitment of our donors and is adding her support to stand alongside them in the impact they fund each year in the hopes that it will inspire others to join us."

The donations from Scott are part of the $4.1 billion that she has donated over the past four months to nearly 400 organizations helping fulfill basic needs for many Americans struggling during the pandemic.

“2020 has been a really challenging year for so many people. Our organizations went through some challenging times this year as did many others,” Holt said.

Because the donation from Scott was not solicited, Goodwill officials have not yet determined specifically how to utilize the funds.

However, the organization is broadly committed to using the entire gift to help Kentuckians experience the dignity and independence that comes from earning a paycheck and achieving self-sufficiency.

“We know for certain to spend it specifically to support the programs and services that we make available for people throughout the state. This is essentially an investment in Kentucky, much less an investment in Goodwill. We just happen to be stewards of this money and are planning to help Kentuckians all around the state get back on their feet,” Holt said.

Reno-Weber said the funds will help Metro United Way, "better meet the tremendous needs we see growing in the wake of the pandemic and will provide a critical foundation for sustaining the bold, transformative innovations we must invest in to build a better tomorrow free of racial and social injustice.”   

In the last six years, Goodwill Industries of Kentucky has aggressively expanded its service offerings to Kentucky’s hardest-to-serve job seekers by including reentry services for citizens returning from incarceration, expungement clinics and youth programs to its other well-established list of services, which are all designed to help remove barriers to employment.

In 2021, the statewide nonprofit organization plans to launch a new career services model that provides jobseekers a robust offering of supports from Goodwill and many of its resource partners.

Goodwill also recently announced plans to establish a comprehensive “Opportunity Campus” on 20 acres in West Louisville that will serve as a resource center for people pursuing pathways to success.

Michael Cadigan produced the video component of this story.