Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a private foundation founded by Bill and Melinda Gates. Based in Seattle, Washington, it was launched in 2000 and is reported to be the largest private foundation in the world, holding $50.7 billion in assets.
The primary aims of the foundation are, globally, to enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty, and, in the U.S., to expand educational opportunities and access to information technology. The foundation is controlled by its three trustees: Bill and Melinda Gates, and Warren Buffett.
It had an endowment of $50.7 billion as of December 31, 2017. As of May 16, 2013, Bill Gates had donated $28 billion to the foundation.
n 1994, the foundation was formed as the William H. Gates Foundation. During the foundation’s following years, funding grew to $2 billion. On June 15, 2006, Gates announced his plans to transition out of a day-to-day role with Microsoft, effective July 31, 2008, to allow him to devote more time to working with the foundation.
In 2005, Bill and Melinda Gates, along with the musician Bono, were named by Time as Persons of the Year 2005 for their outstanding charitable work. In the case of Bill and Melinda Gates, the work referenced was that of this foundation.
In April 2010, Gates was invited to visit and speak at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he asked the students to take on the hard problems of the world in their futures. He also explained the nature and philosophy of his philanthropic endeavors.
In 2010, the foundation’s founders started the Commission on Education of Health Professionals for the 21st Century, entitled “Transforming education to strengthen health systems in an interdependent world.”
A 2011 survey of grantees found that many believed the foundation did not make its goals and strategies clear and sometimes did not understand those of the grantees; that the foundation’s decision- and grantmaking procedures were too opaque; and that its communications could be more consistent and responsive. The foundation’s response was to improve the clarity of its explanations, make “orientation calls” to grantees upon awarding grants, tell grantees who their foundation contact is, give timely feedback when they receive a grantee report, and establish a way for grantees to provide anonymous or attributed feedback to the foundation.
In 2013, Hillary Clinton launched a partnership between the foundation and the Clinton Foundation to gather and study data on the progress of women and girls around the world since the 1995 United Nations Fourth World Conference On Women in Beijing. This is called “No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project.”
On June 25, 2006, Warren Buffett (then the world’s richest person, estimated worth of $62 billion as of April 16, 2008) pledged to give the foundation approximately 10 million Berkshire Hathaway Class B shares spread over multiple years through annual contributions, with the first year’s donation of 500,000 shares being worth approximately $1.5 billion. Buffett set conditions so that these contributions do not simply increase the foundation’s endowment, but effectively work as a matching contribution, doubling the foundation’s annual giving. Bloomberg News noted, “Buffett’s gift came with three conditions for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: Bill or Melinda Gates must be alive and active in its administration; it must continue to qualify as a charity; and each year it must give away an amount equal to the previous year’s Berkshire gift, plus an additional amount equal to 5 percent of net assets. Buffett gave the foundation two years to abide by the third requirement.” The Gates Foundation received 5% (500,000) of the shares in July 2006 and will receive 5% of the remaining earmarked shares in the July of each following year (475,000 in 2007, 451,250 in 2008). In July 2018, Buffet announced another donation of his company’s Class B stock, this time worth $2 billion, to the Gates Foundation.