Saturday, December 2

Gates Foundation to $0 in 50 years

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, announced yesterday that all assets of the organization will be spent no later than 50 years following the death of the longest serving trustee. The Wall Street Journal describes it as a "decisive move in a continuing debate in philanthropy about whether such groups should live on forever."

The foundation said the move reflected a decision by its three trustees, Bill Gates, 51 years old, Melinda Gates, 42, and investor Warren Buffett, 76, to do "as much as possible, as soon as possible" to further its work. Its main programs involve improving health and economic development globally, and improving education and increasing access to technology in libraries in the U.S. In June, Mr. Buffett pledged $31 billion to the foundation.

The decision is expected to influence other charities to consider following suit. The Seattle-based foundation separately plans to increase spending to about $3.5 billion a year beginning in 2009 and continuing through the next decade, up from about $1.75 billion this year.
The foundation's Chief Executive Patty Stonesifer also announced that while they have no plans to solicit money... and they prefer people give directly to charities working in related areas... those who want to donate to the foundation shouldn't be turned away.

The Seattle Times also reports that next year the foundation will create three advisory panels — one for each of its program areas — to seek outside opinions from academics, nonprofit leaders and others. The foundation has also started doing anonymous surveys of its grantees.

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