Maybe it was a constant reminder of Bill Gates’ friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, or maybe she’s just made too many promises to too many pool boys – but Melinda French Gates is no longer going to donate the bulk of her wealth to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
French Gates made the change in late 2021 Giving Pledge letter following her divorce from Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, however at the time she didn’t specify that it would go to the Gates Foundation, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“I think philanthropy is most effective when it prioritizes flexibility over ideology—and why in my work at the foundation and Pivotal Ventures I’ll continue to seek out new partners, ideas, and perspectives,” she wrote.
Still, French Gates says she still plans to give most of her fortune away, spreading it among various philanthropic endeavors, according to people familiar with the matter.
She launched Pivotal Ventures in 2015 to focus on issues affecting women and families, including paid-leave policies and an effort to get more women into technology and public office. She has committed to give $1 billion over 10 years to Pivotal to promote gender equality.
“I recognize the absurdity of so much wealth being concentrated in the hands of one person, and I believe the only responsible thing to do with a fortune this size is give it away—as thoughtfully and impactfully as possible,” she wrote in her new letter.
The Gates Foundation is one of the world’s largest philanthropies with an endowment topping $50 billion. In July, Mr. Gates and Ms. French Gates said they would commit a further $15 billion to the endowment. It is possible that Ms. French Gates makes additional donations to the foundation even as she gives to other charities, one of the people familiar with the matter said.
The foundation recently added four members to its board of trustees in an effort to boost governance following its co-founders’ divorce. Ms. French Gates and Mr. Gates are the foundation’s co-chairs, though she has agreed to resign in 2023 if either of them decides they can no longer work together. Billionaire Warren Buffett, another major donor, was a trustee until he resigned in June 2021. -WSJ
Bill Gates, meanwhile reiterated in his most recent Giving Pledge letter that most of his wealth will go to the Gates Foundation.
“The foundation is my top philanthropic priority, even as my giving in other areas has grown over the years—primarily in mitigation of climate change and tackling Alzheimer’s disease,” he wrote.
In July, there was talk of Bill Gates buying out Melinda’s share of the foundation which bears their name, according to the New York Times.
Mark Suzman, the CEO of the Gates Foundation (which is the largest charitable foundation in the world) broke the news, while revealing that the foundation had been gifted an additional $15 billion in assets to be added to the $50 billion previously amassed in its endowment over two decades.
Suzman added that if French decides she can’t continue to work with Gates after two years, that she would be gifted her own pool of capital to start her own foundation. In other words, if the two decide they can’t peaceably co-parent the foundation, Bill will buy out his ex-wife.