Bill Gates is no Steve Jobs. He’s not a charismatic showman or messianic artist-technologist. He’s something arguably better than that: He’s an action hero. Who else but a comic-book superhuman could claim credit for saving nearly six million lives? Such is the argument made by a handsome infographic created by Frugaldad.com called "Redefining Action Hero: Bill Gates is Better than Batman." (Actually it’s more like one of those long-scrolling graphic slideshows than a true infographic, but we’ll let this one slide.)
Obviously, Bill Gates didn’t literally save every one of those lives with his own two bare hands; Frugal Dad is making a point about the impact of Gates’s philanthropic organization, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is dedicated to (among other things) eradicating diseases like malaria, whooping cough, and yellow fever. According to the sources cited, Mr. Gates’s philanthropic giving is directly responsible for saving 5,812,000 lives "by bringing vaccines and improved health care to children internationally"--and possibly 7.6 million by 2019, "all children under five." When you put it that way, Gates sounds better than Superman, Jesus, and Santa Claus put together, not just Batman.
It’s rather amazing that Gates has given $28 billion to charity so far, $2 billion more than the U.S. budget for foreign aid--part of a commitment to disbursing at least half his entire net worth within his own lifetime. But it’s not only about writing checks. According to the graphic, Gates created a multiplier on his own capital in the form of The Gavi Alliance, which brings the influence of UNICEF, the United Nations, and the World Bank to bear on pharmaceutical companies with the goal of getting them to lower the cost of lifesaving drugs. Cheaper vaccines mean more people (especially children) in developing nations don’t die of diseases the rest of us never have to worry about. The alliance successfully pushed the cost of a rotavirus vaccine down by 99%.
We also have a small Charitable Sector Support initiative.
- Headquarters – Seattle, Washington
- East Coast Office – Washington, D.C.
- Avahan Initiative – Delhi, India
- China Office – Beijing, China
- Europe Office – London, United Kingdom
- Bill Gates, Co-chair
- Melinda French Gates, Co-chair
- William H. Gates Sr., Co-chair
- Jeff Raikes, Chief Executive Officer
- Warren Buffett, Trustee
- Allan C. Golston, President, United States Program
- Trevor Mundel, President, Global Health Program
- Richard Henriques, Chief Financial Officer, Operations
- Connie Collingsworth, General Counsel
- Martha Choe, Chief Administrative Officer
- Geoff Lamb, Managing Director of Public Policy
- Kate James, Chief Communications Officer
- Dale Christian, Chief Information Officer
- Patty Stonesifer, Senior Advisor to the Trustees
- Global Development Program Team
- Global Health Program Team
- United States Program Team
- Operations Team
- Number of employees: approximately 980(1)
- Asset trust endowment: $33.5 billion(1) (2)
- Total grant commitments since inception: $26.19 billion (1)
- Total 2010 grant payments: $2.6 billion*
The foundation supports grantees in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Internationally, we support work in more than 100 countries.
Illustrative Grant Commitments
- GAVI Alliance, expanding childhood immunization: $1.5 billion
- United Negro College Fund, Gates Millennium Scholars Program: $1.37 billion
- PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI): $456 million
- Rotary International, supporting polio eradication: $355 million
- Intensive Partnerships for Effective Teaching, supporting plans to transform how teachers are recruited, developed, rewarded, and retained: $290 million
- Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), improving seeds and soil for African farmers: $264.5 million
- Save the Children, saving newborn lives: $112 million
- United Way of King County: $85 million
- World Food Programme increasing small farmer income: $66 million
- TechnoServe, helping small coffee farmers improve crops and fetch higher prices: $46.9 million
- Heifer International, helping small farmers grow local and regional dairy markets: $43 million
- Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI), a coalition of countries from the developing world making savings accounts, insurance, and other financial services available to people living on less than $2 a day: $35 million
- Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), testing and promoting the use of information and communications technologies to deliver microfinance products: $24 million
- Achieve, Inc. and the American Diploma Project Network, assisting states in aligning high school standards with the expectations of college and career: $23 million
- Opportunity Online Program, multiple library systems: $22.9 million
- Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia, supporting the installation of public computers with Internet access, training for staff, and implementation support for public libraries: $19.8 million
- Opportunity International Inc., developing and expanding a network of commercial banks in Africa: $15.4 million
- Gateway to College, expanding a program that enables colleges to serve students who need remedial academic help: $7.28 million
- Building Changes, helping create the Washington Families Fund and supporting efforts in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties to reduce family homelessness: $17.5 million
*Figure includes grants and other direct charitable contributions. In 2009, the foundation paid approximately $3.0 billion in grants and an additional $72 million in direct charitable contributions.
(1) As of September 30, 2011
(2) Endowment includes $1.6 billion from the first installment of the gift from Warren Buffett recorded August 24, 2006, the second installment of $1.76 billion recorded on July 11, 2007, the third installment of $1.8 billion recorded on July 1, 2008, the fourth installment of $1.25 billion recorded on July 1, 2009, the fifth installment of $1.6 billion recorded on July 1, 2010, and the sixth installment of $1.5 billion recorded on July 7, 2011.