Why Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg Weren’t As Charitable in 2018

A new report published in the Chronicle of Philanthropy shows that America’s billionaires weren’t feeling quite as generous in 2018 as they were in 2017. Statistics reveal that last year, the country’s 50 most charitable billionaire’s only donated half of what they did in 2017. Nonprofit expert Lynn Raynault explains why.

“I think it’s less about giving less in 2018 (because 2018 was still well above other years), and more about the fact that 2017 was an anomaly year,” Raynault speculated.

But there’s another key factor to keep in mind: All it takes is one or two donors to tip the scale in either direction. Consider the fact that Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, for example, were responsible for half of the money donated by the top 50 billionaires in 2017.

“The impact that these mega-donors can have year over year is just tremendous,” Raynault explained.

And yet, Bill and his wife Melinda only gave $150 million to charity in 2018 compared to $4.8 billion in 2017. The reason, Raynault theorizes, is because billionaires often focus on a specific cause, and related opportunities can vary from year to year.

“Nearly two-thirds of billionaires are self-made, thus they tend to base their philanthropy on issues relevant to their own principles of success,” Raynault articulated. “For example, in 2018, there were a number of tech billionaires supporting efforts around artificial intelligence and its use in accelerating efforts such as ending hunger, aiding global health care issues, or education.”

As for Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, their noticeable decline in charitable giving can be explained by the political scandals that rocked Facebook last year. According to Fox Business, Zuckerberg’s net worth took a big hit last year. As a result, the couple only donated $200 million in 2018 compared to $2 billion in 2017.

“That’s still a relatively hefty sum and is actually in line with what they’ve given in prior years,” Raynault maintained.

*Photo credit: Oleg Golovnev / Shutterstock


New Gates Foundation Initiative Will Address Poverty

In his endless quest to donate his money almost as fast as he makes it, Bill Gates has announced another philanthropic project. This time, he is taking on systemic poverty.

On Thursday, May 3rd, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced that between now and 2022, they intend to spend $158 million on a variety of initiatives, from data collection and research to funding activism and lobbying.

The foundation’s work will be guided by the U.S. Partnership on Mobility from Poverty, which is housed within the liberal-leaning think tank the Urban Institute. The organization has spent the past two years crafting plans to address systemic inequality in actionable ways. Their solutions involve both businesses and governments.

The money from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (to date, the largest private charity organization in the world) will help turn ideas and plans into practicable projects.

“Poverty is like education, where there’s not enough philanthropic resources to take on responsibility, but if you can show how to have a lot more impact, then the policies will benefit from that,” Bill Gates told the Associated Press earlier this year.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, whose original goals were to improve the quality of education in the U.S. and the world, has expanded its focus to help underserved students outside the classroom as well. This will surely result in a more impactful outcome, given that poverty and education are closely related. It is, after all, hard to do homework if the lights are shut off. But poverty also goes beyond basic survival necessities. In today’s technological age, having access to a computer with internet access is an absolute must.

Over the course of the next few months, it will be exciting to see the difference that this donation will make in the lives of children.


Bill Gates is Putting $100 Million Towards Finding a Cure for Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, with symptoms that range from mild short-term memory loss to being unable to manage basic self-care functions or remember one’s own life. It is incurable, and affects more than 1 in 20 people over the age of 65, worldwide.

Bill Gates, billionaire and philanthropist, says that the disease is common in his family. As he turned 62 this year, thoughts of Alzheimer’s may be pressing in on him. But even if he weren’t personally at risk, medical research is a cause he’s supported before.

Gates will be donating $50 million to the Dementia Discovery Fund, a fund to support industry and government research into treatments for the disease. This will be a personal donation, not made via Gates’ Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“It’s a huge problem, a growing problem, and the scale of the tragedy—even for the people who stay alive—is very high,” Gates said. It is arguably the most expensive disease in the developed world, with most affected needing round-the-clock care for years in their decline.

The Dementia Discovery Fund includes drugmakers like GlaxoSmithKine, Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly, Pfizer, Biogen Idec, and the government of the United Kingdom.

In addition to the initial donation, Gates has pledged $50 million to medical startups that are pursuing “less mainstream” approaches to the disease. He has not yet identified any of these startups.

He expects progress to be slow, predicting it to take 10 years or more before solid treatments are developed from his donations. He wants focus to be extended in five areas: disease progression, early diagnoses, multiple approach treatments, protocols around clinical trials involving those with dementia, and collaborating on medical research between for-profit companies.

The effects of his generosity will likely outlive him, but rest assured, the impact of his donations will never be forgotten.

*Photo courtesy of OnInnovation via Flickr Creative Commons. 


Bill Gates Donates $4.6 Billion to Charity

Bill Gates, the richest man in the world, has just made his biggest contribution to charity since the year 2000. According to a recent U.S. Securities & Exchange filing, Gates gave 64 million Microsoft shares (the equivalent of $4.6 billion) to an undisclosed recipient.

Although the beneficiary has not been named, it is expected that the donation will go the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—a charitable organization that he and his wife founded in 2000 to improve global healthcare and reduce poverty. The foundation has not yet responded to requests for comment.

While $4.6 billion may sound like a lot of money, The Guardian reports that the shares donated only represent about 5% of Gates’ $90 billion fortune. But it doesn’t come without a cost. Gates’ latest act of generosity has reduced his stake in Microsoft to just 1.3%. In 1996, Gates owned 24% of Microsoft.

One of his biggest donations came in 1999, when he gifted $16 billion worth of Microsoft shares. The following year, he gave an additional $5.1 billion. To this day, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation remains the world’s largest private charity.

Also of note: Gates’ recent $4.6 billion donation is a record-setter. As The Guardian points out, it is the biggest charitable contribution made this year, topping a $3.2 billion donation from Warren Buffett last month.

In 2010, Bill and Melinda Gates teamed up with Buffett to create the Giving Pledge—a vow to donate at least 50 percent of their wealth to charity. More than 170 of the world’s wealthiest people have since taken the pledge, including Mark Zuckerberg, Michael Bloomberg, and George Lucas.

“I realized ten years ago that my wealth has to go back to society,” Bill Gates once said. “A fortune, the size of which is hard to imagine, is best not passed on to one’s children. It’s not constructive for them.”

Bill and Melinda Gates have been very public about the fact that they will not be leaving all of their wealth to their children. The couple would rather their children make their own way in the world so that they will remain humble.

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Young Tech Donors Dominate Philanthropy 50

Bill and Melinda Gates, Bil Gates, Melinda Gates
It hardly comes as a surprise that philanthropic power couple Bill and Melinda Gates led the pack for philanthropy in 2014. Image: Suzie Katz via Flickr CC

When a lot of people think of the world’s top philanthropists, the image of an old business magnate writing checks from behind their desk might come to mind. Not so, says The Chronicle of Philanthropy, which recently reported that some of the most generous and influential philanthropists out there today are young people in tech industries.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy contributors Alex Daniels and Maria Di Mento report, “America’s 50 most generous donors increased their giving by 27.5 percent last year – powered in large part by a $1.5-billion gift from Bill and Melinda Gates and a stunning rise in the number of tech entrepreneurs under 40, three of whom gave more than $500-million each,” of the changing demographic of prominent philanthropists. Furthermore, The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s annual “Philanthropy 50” reveals that more technology entrepreneurs are stepping up when it comes to giving back generously.

Here are the top 5 donors in the “Philanthropy 50”:

  1. Bill and Melinda Gates. It should come as no surprise that this philanthropic power couple ranked at number one in 2014 for their continually inspiring generosity. Last year, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donated roughly $1.5 billion towards poverty initiatives, educational opportunities, and human service programs.
  2. Ralph C. Wilson Jr. In 2014, Wilson, who passed away at 95 the same year, donated roughly $1 billion to nonprofits in western New York and southeastern Michigan through his eponymous foundation.
  3. Theodore (Ted) Stanley. Mr. Stanley donated an estimated $652,394,500 to the Broad Institute, which will put the substantial donation towards research into the genetic sequencing of conditions like schizophrenia and autism.
  4. Jan Koum. Like Bill Gates, Koum’s wealth source is derived from the technology industry. At 38 years old, he was one of the surprising additions to this year’s “Philanthropy 50” in that he is a notably younger philanthropist than many on the list. Koum donated roughly $556 million to nonprofits in 2014.
  5. Sean N. Parker. Rounding out the top five is Sean Paker, who donated an estimated $550 million to the fields of medicine and science in 2014. Until recently, Parker kept a low philanthropic profile, but has recently emerged as one of the most prominent philanthropists in the country. At just 35 and in the tech industry, he also supports The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s observations about how young tech donors are dominating the world of philanthropy.

Be sure to read more about how young tech donors are taking a leading role in the realm of philanthropy over at The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

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Forbes Hosts Annual 400 Summit on Philanthropy

Warren Buffett and Bill Gates
Warren Buffett and Bill Gates play ping pong as they honor their shared hero, philanthropist Chuck Feeney. IMG: via Forbes.

Earlier this month, Forbes hosted its third annual Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy, an occasion that brought together some of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs, activists, and philanthropists. The event, held at the New York Public Library, was formed with the mission of creating innovative solutions for educational issues. At this year’s summit, these issues included discussions such as how to increase access to education for girls in the developing world, as well as in supporting K-12 schools in the United States.

The event was considered incredibly successful, according to leaders at Forbes and prominent attendees. Says Forbes Media President and CEO Mike Perlis, “This was another outstanding Philanthropy Summit. From research on brain development to improving America’s public schools, the discussion around education was thoughtful and energizing. He adds, “We’re very please that we can leverage the power of the Forbes brand to convene some of today’s most influential thought leaders and share their knowledge and ideas with the Forbes audience across all of our platforms,” of how important it is that the annual Summit draws out such influential and innovative global figures.

Forbes Editor Randall Lane agrees that this year’s Summit on Philanthropy was incredibly successful, and perhaps even the company’s best yet. He says, “Last year’s Summit focused on global poverty, and we led a team to Liberia to turn our plans into actionable results. This year’s agenda, from top-to-bottom, was our best yet, and we hope to spur similar results on behalf of the world’s children.”

The 2014 Summit on Philanthropy also honored two individuals who have dedicated their lives to bettering those of others through philanthropic and educational outreach. Teach for America’s Founder and Chair Wendy Kopp received the Forbes 400 Lifetime Achievement Award for Social Entrepreneurship, and Chuck Feeney, Founder of The Atlantic Philanthropies was awarded with the Forbes 400 Lifetime Achievement Award for Philanthropy. Other prominent guests in attendance included formidable women’s rights activist Malala Yousafzai, Warren Buffett, Paul Tudor Jones, Jeff Skoll, Sara Blakely, Laurene Powell Jobs, and many others.

Learn more about the event and its impact by visiting


Bill and Melinda Gates Will Not Be Leaving Children Their Fortune

At a recent TED conference in Vancouver Bill Gates, the world’s richest man, and his wife Melinda opened up about their personal lives. The pair said they would not be leaving all their wealth to their three children. The couple stated they will instead encourage their children to make their own way in the world.

Gates said that instead of just giving them money, they have given their two daughters and son a good education so they can pave their own success rather than rely on their parents’ fortune. Gates said: “We want to strike a balance so they have the freedom to do anything, but not sort of a lot of money showered on them so that they can go out and do nothing.”

Melinda Gates talked about a recent Tanzania trip she took with her eldest daughter Jen, where they stayed with a family in a rural area to learn more about the barriers to education for girls in the country. The couple stated Warren Buffet, who has taken a similar approach with his children, inspires their parenting style.

The Gates have joined the Giving Pledge, which is committed to diverting personal wealth to philanthropy, a pledge Buffet has also made. The couple argued that leaving a huge sum to their children is no good for their families or society.

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Mark Zuckerberg Made the Largest Donation of 2013

Mark Zuckerberg
Kobby Dagan /

Whatever your opinion might be of Mark Zuckerberg after the release of the Hollywoodized story of Facebook’s birth, there can be no question that he’s put a lot of his wealth into good causes. The founder of the world’s largest social media website and his wife donated 18 million shares of Facebook to charity both 2012 and 2013. In 2012, the shares were worth about $500 million; today they are worth about $992 million.

These donations are perhaps unsurprising, considering that Zuckerberg is a member of the prestigious “Giving Pledge” started by billionaires Warren Buffett and Melinda and Bill Gates in 2010. The pledge asks the world’s billionaires to promise to give away half their wealth or more to charity during their lifetimes or upon their deaths. The pledge has garnered many reputable names, including Richard Branson, Sara Blakely, and Michael Bloomberg. Gates himself plans on giving away a total of about $60 billion.

Zuckerberg isn’t the only billionaire pledging more money to charity these days, either; fourteen other Americans donated gifts of at least $100 million or more in 2013. The year before, eleven total donations of that scale were made.

Last year, Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, were second on the list of largest single charitable gifts. This year, they became the first billionaires under the age of 30 to land the top spot. Here’s the full list of the top ten donations made in 2013, provided by the Chronicle of Philanthropy:

  1. Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan – $992.2 million – Silicon Valley Community Foundation
  2. Phil and Penelope Knight – $500 million (pledge) – Oregon Health & Science University Foundation
  3. Michael Bloomberg – $350 million (pledge) – The Johns Hopkins University
  4. Charles Johnson – $250 million (pledge) – Yale University
  5. Stephen Ross – $200 million (pledge) – University of Michigan
  6. Muriel Block – $160 million (bequest) – Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University
  7. John Arrillaga – $151 million – Stanford University
  8. Irwin and Joan Jacobs – $133 million – The Jacobs Technicon-Cornell Innovation Institute at Cornell NYC Tech
  9. Charles Munger – $100 million (pledge) – University of Michigan
  10. David Koch – $100 million (pledge) – New York Presbyterian Hospital

Three Prominent Philanthropic “Power Couples”

Meryl Streep and Donald Gummer
s_bukley /
Meryl Streep and Donald Gummer have given millions to different philanthropic organizations.

When it comes to donating funds to worthy causes, two givers are always better than one. Happily, there are many charitable foundations backed by two philanthropic people, most commonly a husband and wife team. Leading businesspeople, celebrities, and entrepreneurs have donated millions of dollars, as well as their time to important causes, and more often than not, their philanthropically-likeminded partner helps to make the impact of giving that much stronger. Here are three notable “power couples” committed to philanthropy right now:

Meryl Streep and Donald Gummer: Academy Award-winning actress Meryl Streep and her husband, sculptor Donald Gummer, are two of the most generous philanthropists in Hollywood, and also perhaps the most discreet. Their philanthropy might come as a surprise to many; the two never seek praise or recognition for their monetary donations, but have given millions to organizations like Oxfam America, Partners in Health, and Vassar College, to name a few. Through their privately established Silver Mountain Foundation for the Arts, Streep and Gummer have created education and arts-based grants, helping charter schools, people seeking higher education, and arts initiatives.

Bill and Melinda Gates: This power couple is known for their remarkably generous contributions to charity through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other outlets. Reportedly having a net worth of $72 billion, the couple has publicly pledged to eventually donate as much as 95% of their wealth to charity. With a primary focus on improving education, and impacting global health and development programs, as of 2007, Bill and Melinda Gates had already donated over $28 billion to worthy causes around the world. To learn more about this philanthropic duo, read our detailed profiles of Bill Gates and Melinda Gates.

Pierre and Pam Omidyar: Pierre Omidyar is known as the founder of the online auction site eBay, but has become even more of a prominent figure as a philanthropist. In 2004, Pierre and his wife Pam created the Omidyar Network, a philanthropic foundation that invests in and assists innovative organizations that will eventually impact social, economic, and political change. Bloomberg Businessweek reports that “the goal of their work is to make a social impact,” and that they have already donated hundreds of millions of dollars to organizations that will impact the most societal change.

These are just three of the many philanthropic-minded couples that have generously donated time and money to worthy causes. What other philanthropic “power couples” can you think of?


Paul Allen Fourth Biggest Giver in America

Paul Allen
IMG: REUTERS/Robert Sorbo

The Chronicle of Philanthropy has reported that Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen was the fourth most charitable giver in 2012.  The list is an impressive roundup of the nation’s wealthiest people, many of whom have famously committed to The Giving Pledge, an initiative started by Warren Buffet and Bill Gates.

Buffet lives up to his words at the top of the list, with donations adding up to over $3 billion.  Paul Allen’s childhood friend Bill Gates was surprisingly absent from the list, due mainly to the Chronicle’s methodology, which has already counted much of Gates’ philanthropy in previous years.  Allen is now the chairman of Vulcan, Inc. which supports business ventures and charitable projects.

To read more about Paul Allen, check out his full profile.