Activism

Bill Gates gives £3.6 billion to charity

The Microsoft mogul's philanthropic donation is the biggest in the world this year, and the biggest he has made since 2000

How much money do the very wealthy need to stop the search for more?

At what point is it right to give a lot of wealth away? And how much money is a decent and smart amount to donate to the right cause?

Bill Gates may be a good person to ask these tricky questions about philanthropy, should you ever get the chance. Not only is the Microsoft mogul Planet Earth’s richest person, but he also heads up the world’s biggest charitable enterprise.

And he has just made the single biggest charitable donation of 2017.

Gates has donated £3.6 billion to his own charitable foundation, the biggest philanthropic injection of money since its set up back in 2000.

US Securities and Exchange Commission documents revealed this week that a donation of 64 million Microsoft shares had been made by Gates to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – the body aiming to reduce developing world poverty through a series of health initiatives.

If I had known back in 2007 how much progress we would make in ten years, I would’ve been thrilled

Gates also announced the latest effort to wipe out malaria, the tropical disease he and his wife Melinda called for the eradication of almost 10 years ago.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will donate one preventative bed net to a family for every person who reads a blog post about the fight against mosquitos and takes a quiz.

“If I had known back in 2007 how much progress we would make in ten years, I would’ve been thrilled by how much we’ve cut the death rate,” Gates wrote.

“I’d also be impressed by how many insecticidal bed nets are now in use, how new treatments are helping people with the most severe cases of malaria, and how rapid diagnostic tests have made it easier to find and treat people.”

Money has no utility to me beyond a certain point

Gates may be admirably driven to be useful, but do he and his super-rich, philanthropic peers believe they are doing enough to justify their enormous fortunes? Possibly. Possibly not.

Seemingly uneasy at their gargantuan wealth, Gates and his friend Warren Buffett set up the Giving Pledge back in 2010, vowing to give away half of their wealth to charitable causes and encouraging other billionaires to do the same.

Since then 170 of them have signed up, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

“Money has no utility to me beyond a certain point,” Gates has said. “Its utility is entirely in building an organization and getting the resources out to the poorest in the world.”

If Gates can help wipe out malaria for good, it would be hard to argue against the utility of his spending. Whether he sets new standards of generosity for other members of the ultra-wealthy remains to be seen.

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