The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will increase its annual payouts to exceed 50% more than its pre-pandemic levels. The increase in distribution will bring annual grants from just less than $6 billion in 2019 to $9 billion by 2026. Concurrently, on July 13 Bill Gates announced a $20 billion gift to the Seattle-based foundation’s endowment.
That gift, which exceeds the $15 billion pledge Bill and Melinda French Gates made during summer 2021, along with chairman and CEO of holding company Berkshire Hathaway Warren Buffett’s $3.1 billion annual gift, which hit in June, brings the foundation’s endowment to roughly $70 billion. Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates have contributed $39 billion to the foundation since 1994. Buffett has donated $35.7 billion to the foundation since 2006. The foundation has spent $79.2 billion since 2000.
During the past two years, foundation leaders addressed shifting global priorities by allocating $2.1 billion to gender equality, more than $2 billion to coronavirus pandemic relief and nearly $1 billion to advance global nutrition.
In a blog post discussing the decision, Bill Gates expanded on how the combined efforts of governments, nonprofits, philanthropies and the private sector have impacted a number of concerns between 2000 and 2020. According to Gates, the number of children who died before their fifth birthday dropped by half, to 6 million per year, diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis and malaria “went into retreat” with the number of people dying from them falling and the percentage of people living in extreme poverty dropped by half.
Many of those achievements have been thwarted during the last two years. “Against this backdrop, the pandemic is one of the biggest setbacks in history,” Bill Gates wrote in his blog post. “The world was poorly prepared, so the damage is widespread. In addition to more than 20 million excess deaths caused by COVID — exacerbated by the inequity in vaccine distribution between high- and low-income countries — childhood deaths from all causes are going up because of disruptions to health systems. Polio eradication was set back several years. Students have lost as many as two years of learning in most countries. Emergency spending on the COVID response has left governments with large debts that will have to be paid off. Many countries are experiencing significant job losses, particularly among women. Women have had to bear most of the burden of taking care of children who were not in school.”
Bill Gates made special note of the global damage the war in the Ukraine has created. “The reduction in the supply of natural gas is driving up costs, such as the cost of electricity, particularly in Europe,” he wrote. “The reduction in the supply of food — particularly wheat and edible oils — and the supply of fertilizer is driving up food prices, which will increase malnutrition and instability in low-income countries.”
The increased distributions from the foundation will augment funding on behalf of the foundation’s core principles, which include education, gender identity and global health and development primarily in low- and middle-income countries, as well as facilitating work in U.S. economic mobility and education.
“Despite huge global setbacks in the past few years, I see incredible heroism and sacrifice all over the world and I believe progress is possible,” foundation Co-chair Bill Gates said in the statement that announced the increased distribution. “But the great crises of our time require all of us to do more. I hope by giving more, we can mitigate some of the suffering people are facing right now and help fulfill the foundation’s vision to give every person the chance to live a healthy and productive life.”