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"It couldn't have come at a better time" | Billionaire donates millions of dollars to Knoxville nonprofits

The organizations will now spend time planning where the money will go but know it will make a long-term and meaningful impact.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Four Knoxville nonprofits just received millions of dollars in donations, all from one donor.

United Way of Greater Knoxville, Goodwill Industries -- Knoxville, Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee and the YWCA Knoxville and the Tennessee Valley were recipients. 

It's a milestone for United Way, as it marks their biggest one-time donation. Officials said that the donor gave $10 million. 

The donor is philanthropist and billionaire MacKenzie Scott.

2020 came with a lot of struggles for nonprofits. A recent survey found East Tennessee nonprofits are around $20 million dollars short of their usual budgets due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

So when a phone call came wanting to donate a large amount, emotions were high. 

"When she shared that with me I just burst into tears," said Rachel Haverkamp with YWCA. 

Scott and a team spent months vetting more than 6,400 organizations. They said that 384 nonprofits were chosen and more than $4.2 billion in donations was given out.

"I think it says a lot about our community and the spirit that exists here," said Matt Ryerson with United Way. "What we want to do with a gift like this is how do we solve community problems, address core issues is that we're not dealing with the issues ten years from now."

"I thought back over the past nine months what we have seen with domestic violence needs growing and demand for housing and demand for after school assistance," said Haverkamp. 

Both say the donations speak volumes for the good work the community does and will continue to do. 

"It's going to shift the way we look at our work, do our work going forward. It couldn't have come at a better time, even a better year," said Ryerson.

The organizations will now spend time planning where the money will go but know it will make a long-term and meaningful impact.

"A gift like this can lend hope to what we all have experienced, just an incredibly challenging year, it gives us hope there are better days ahead, solutions to our greatest challenges," he said. 

Scott donated $1.7 billion to 116 organizations in July, which included four historically Black colleges and universities.