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Microsoft’s Bill Gates Donates £3.6bn To Charity

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Microsoft co-founder makes huge charity donation, as he continues Foundation’s philanthropic work

Bill Gates has continued his philanthropic drive with his largest donation to charity since the year 2000.

In June this year he donated 64 million Microsoft shares, worth $4.6 billion (£3.6bn), according to a US Securities & Exchange Commission filing.

Whilst the recipient of the donation was not disclosed, it is widely believed to be the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which Gates set up in 2000 with $5 billion funding to tackle global healthcare and poverty.

Bill Gates - Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Noble Cause

Bill Gates is currently the world’s richest man, although last month he was briefly knocked off the top spot by Amazon’s founder and CEO Jeff Bezos for a couple of hours after a brief surge in Amazon’s share price.

It is not clear whether Gates will remain in the top spot at the rate his charity donations are going, but the latest $4.6 billion share donation represents approximately 5 percent of Gates’ current $90bn fortune. And Gates’ stake in Microsoft has now shrunk to just 1.3 percent, compared to 24 percent in 1996.

So far, it is thought that Bill and Melinda Gates have donated $35 billion in total since 1994. They donated $16 billion worth of Microsoft shares in 1999, and $5.1 billion shares in 2000.

These sizeable donations have turned the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation into the world’s largest private charity with $40.3 billion of funds (before the latest donation).

Gates’ friend and fellow billionaire Warren Buffett last month also made a $3.2 billion donation to the Gates foundation. Both men had in 2010 created the Giving Pledge in an effort to encourage other billionaires to give at least half of their wealth to charity.

Bill Gates has always said that he give away most of his fortune, and that he would only provide modest inheritances to his three children, in order to ensure they can develop their own future.

The Giving Pledge created by Gates and Buffet has attracted at least 170 of the world’s richest people. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Michael Bloomberg and George Lucas, have all signed up for example.

Most of the most notable absentees however is Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, who is worth $84.3bn. To be fair, Bezos is still deciding where to invest ordivest the bulk of his fortune.

Charity Work

The Gates Foundation has undertaken some notable philanthropic work in the past, and has made big strides in the fight against polio and malaria. Indeed, Gates hopes to rid the world of polio by 2018.

In 2015 he funded the development of a machine that turns human waste into drinkable water and free electricity for developing countries. And in 2016 Bill Gates and his pals launched the Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) fund, along with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon boss Jeff Bezos and Alibaba Group Holding Chairman Jack Ma.

That $1 billion (£800m) investment fund was earmarked for clean energy technology. It seeks to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and finance research into the development and deployment of emerging renewable technologies over the next 20 years.

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