It can get stale, no?—Bill Gates sneezes, and an excited chorus of business reporters fill print and airwaves with breathless articles and analyses covering every angle of the achoo.
But this story, well, it may indeed be nothing to sneeze at. The Microsoft founder, uber-billionaire, and philanthropy Pied Piper has announced that his enormous holdings (somewhere between $102.4 billion and $113 billion) are being depleted by roughly 20% through a massive donation to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The history’s-biggest-ever contribution will underwrite the Foundation’s commitment to increase yearly payouts by 50 percent, which is expected to reach $9 billion in annual contributions by 2026.
You might be wondering the reason for suddenly accelerating investment. Gates explained:
Over the past two decades, the Gates Foundation has gone from spending around $1 billion per year to spending nearly $6 billion per year. During the pandemic, Melinda and I approved spending an additional $2 billion so we could help with the COVID response without taking money away from other important work that we fund. (Of this commitment, $1.5 billion had been spent by the end of 2021, with remaining commitments of up to $500 million that have not been disbursed.) At the time, we expected the extra spending to stop once the acute phase of the pandemic was over. But it is now clear that the need in all the areas where we work is greater than ever. The great crises of our time require all of us to do more.
For this reason, rather than returning the foundation’s budget to pre-pandemic levels, we will continue to expand it. With the support and guidance of our board, the Gates Foundation intends to increase spending from nearly $6 billion per year before COVID to $9 billion per year by 2026. Our focus will remain the same—but at this moment of great need and opportunity, this spending will allow us to accelerate progress by investing more deeply in the areas where we are already working. To help make this spending increase possible, I am transferring $20 billion to the foundation’s endowment this month.
Those “areas where we work” are pandemic prevention, eradicating diseases, “improving food security and climate adaption” and “educational outcomes,” “mitigating climate change,” gender equality, and “reducing childhood deaths” (that last one is quite a trick for one of the world’s largest bankrollers of abortion services).
Of course, Gates’s despairing statement (“We are facing all these global crises at a time of deep political polarization in the United States”) made certain to assail the Supreme Court’s recent Dobbs decision:
I believe the reversal of abortion rights in the U.S. is a huge setback for gender equality, for women’s health, and for overall human progress. The potential for even further regression is scary. It will put lives at risk for women, people of color, and anyone living on the margins.
Elaborating on his contribution promise via Twitter, Gates added an additional pledge, one that will land him in relative impoverishment: “As I look to the future, I plan to give virtually all of my wealth to the foundation. I will move down and eventually off of the list of the world’s richest people.”
(One cannot help but wonder: Will he be forced to fly commercial?)
The new $20 billion commitment comes on the heels of the $15 billion Gates and his ex-wife, Melinda French Gates, donated to their foundation last year (that in addition to the $3.1 billion donation made by Gates’ consigliere and fellow gargantuan philanthropist, Warren Buffett (whose own abortion-obsessed charitable expenditures make Gates’ interest look nascent).
Since its creation in 2000, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has spent over $79 billion, and its new commitment will mean an additional $41 billion in donations through 2026.
Last year, the Gates Foundation announced a $2.1 billion pledge to promoting “women’s and girls’ health” in the ensuing five years, with $1.4 billion of that going toward
increasing options and access to contraceptives and will provide backing to a network of family-planning groups including United Nations Population Fund Supplies Partnership; Family Planning 2030, a United Nations program; the Global Financing Facility, the World Bank’s program to ensure health and well-being of women, children, and adolescents in Africa, Asia, and Latin America; and a new program called Shaping Equitable Market Access for Reproductive Health.
Public records for the Gates Foundation’s 2020 activities disclose $5.4 billion in charitable contributions to thousands of recipient nonprofits and government agencies (that on top of $1.1 billion in administrative costs, all taken from the institution’s then-$52 billion endowment, now said to stand at $70 billion).
The enormous 1,245-page federal document details 319 grantee entries alone related to “family planning.” And many of those line items—such as that to Avenir Health in Connecticut—show beneficiaries of the seven-figure largesse (Avenir received $5 million for “family-planning” activities).
The 990 form lists no grantee with the word “abortion” or choice” in its title, but that belies the Foundation’s interest in these areas. Case in point: a major Gates Foundation grantee is DKT International, a global entity which boasts it has provided over 8 million “safe” abortions annually:
DKT believes that women have a right to safe abortion and is committed to both preventing unsafe abortions and providing safe abortions where it is not restricted. DKT has become a major provider of safe abortion services and technology, as well as abortion education.
DKT is able to mark this achievement thanks to its $9.6 million in funding from the Foundation.
While Gates manages to make the news for other excitements—such as his buying of gobs of prime American farmland (the latest being 2,000 acres of prime North Dakota land that has infuriated locals)—there is speculation that the motivation for Gates’ historic donation announcement is to distract from the less-gratifying news that seems to swirl about him.
Gates has been the buzz of the commentariat for news such as his divorce with Melinda (and talk of his alleged extra-marital activities), his repeated meetings with now-deceased sex-trafficker and ex-con Jeffrey Epstein, or speculation that Buffett (who resigned from the Gates Foundation board in 2021, and is said to be unhappy with its massive overhead costs) will revise his estate planning to redirect his wealth from Gates to his own family foundations—that have overshadowed the do-goodery of Gates’ philanthropic ventures.
But to the 66-year-old Redmond, Washington billionaire, the reason for his major bequest, and promise of more to come, is his belief in “an obligation to return my resources to society in ways that have the greatest impact for improving lives.”
At least, those lives that make the cut, so to speak.