Melinda French Gates, co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will no longer be channeling the majority of her wealth through the philanthropic organization.
According to the Wall Street Journal, French Gates still plans to distribute much of her fortune across philanthropic endeavors, but largely outside of the Gates Foundation, which is one of the world’s largest.
“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 to give it away – as thoughtfully and impactfully as possible,” French Gates wrote in a new letter.
“The ultimate goal of any philanthropist should be to render the need for philanthropy obsolete,” the billionaire wrote. “It’s important to acknowledge that giving away money your family will never need is not an especially noble act. There’s no question in my mind that the real standard for generosity is set by the people who give even when it means going without.
“That’s why, as part of this pledge, I commit to doing more than writing checks. I also commit my time, energy, and efforts to the work of fighting poverty and advancing equality – for women and girls and other marginalized groups – in the United States and around the world.”
In 2010, French Gates and her then husband Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, launched The Giving Pledge, alongside billionaire investor Warren Buffett. The campaign encourages the world’s richest people to dedicate the majority of their wealth to charitable causes.
At the time, the former couple revealed in a joint letter that they have “committed the vast majority of our assets” to the Gates Foundation in efforts to address preventable death from various diseases and “tear down other barriers to health and education”.
However, since their divorce in 2021, French Gates and Gates have each penned individual letters detailing varying philanthropic commitments. In 2015, French Gates founded Pivotal Ventures, an investment and incubation company that seeks to advance social and professional progress for women and families across the US.
In French Gates’ letter, she reiterated her commitment to giving away the vast majority of her wealth. “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.
In a separate letter published by Gates, the Microsoft co-founder emphasized his philanthropic commitments to the Gates Foundation: “The foundation is my top philanthropic priority, even as my giving in other areas has grown over the years.”