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.

News The Power of Giving

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.

Profiles Resources

Philanthropy’s Most Formidable Females

Melinda Gates
Melinda Gates IMG: JStone /

Inside Philanthropy recently released its list of the 15 Most Powerful Women in U.S. Philanthropy, a roster of some of the most formidable female leaders in America. You already know that women are just as innovative and influential in the realm of philanthropy as their male counterparts, right? Even still, it’s always great to be reminded that just because they’re not necessarily making headlines as often, the following women are changing our world for the better.

The list of the 15 most powerful women in U.S. philanthropy is as follows:

  1. Melinda Gates
  2. Susan Buffett
  3. Patricia Harris
  4. Marilyn Simons
  5. Susan Dell
  6. Pam Omidyar
  7. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey
  8. Jennifer Buffett
  9. Carol Larsen
  10. Laurene Powell Jobs
  11. Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen
  12. Laura Arnold
  13. Priscilla Chan
  14. Margaret Cargill
  15. Cathy Catalyst

According to David Callahan, who spearheaded the formation of this list, “Women are a fast-rising force in philanthropy. More women are making their own fortunes than ever before and women are also exercising growing leadership in family philanthropy, shaping how wealth made by spouses or earlier generations is given away,” he says. Additionally, women are often top networkers and innovators of modern philanthropy.

Women who made this list of powerful female philanthropists had to meet the following criteria: “(A) She directly, or jointly, controls a boatload of money, or strongly influence how a huge fortune is used; (B) She’s actively deploying that money for philanthropic ends in a hands-on way; and (C) She’s having an impact with her philanthropy, either directly or through her ideas and the example she sets, or both.” Given such a strong list of inspiring women, I think it’s safe to say that many of them possess all three of these categories, and are not only making the world a better place because of their fiscal generosity, but because of how they inspire others to follow suit.

Learn more about these women and what it means to be a “powerful philanthropist” by visiting

Profiles Resources

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?


Melinda Gates Uses Her Power for Good

Melinda Gates

The list of the world’s most powerful women by Forbes has listed Melinda Gates at position number 3. Melinda Gates is the co-founder and chair of The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest grant giving foundation in the United States.

The Foundation has existed for 13 years and holds $34 billion in assets.  Goals they have set for the foundation this year are to eradicate polio within five years and distribute safe birth control to 120 million women in Africa and Asia.  She has given several TED talks on how to improve philanthropy and the important role that access to birth control plays in the empowerment of women.

Melinda and Bill have told their stakeholders that part of their mission will include investing in projects that fail. This is because they are willing to take the risk that governments and other organizations are not able to.  The Foundation specializes in immunizations, agricultural development, sanitation and other global health issues.

To read Melinda Gates’ entire profile, click here.