On The Point: Should we punish success?

When business persons have success they often spread the wealth and as I said in my commentary above Bill Gates is at the head of the class on giving back. So what does the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation really do?

Here are some of the highlights from their website:

Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Dr. Susan Desmond-Hellmann and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.

Grantmaking Areas

We also have a small Charitable Sector Support initiative.


  • Headquarters – Seattle, Washington
  • Washington, D.C. Office – Washington, DC
  • India Office – Delhi, India
  • China Office – Beijing, China
  • Europe and Middle East Offices – London, United Kingdom and Berlin, Germany
  • Africa Offices – Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Abuja, Nigeria; and Johannesburg, South Africa


Foundation Facts (1)

Current number of foundation employees: 1,489
Total grant payments since inception (through Q4 2018): $50.1 billion (2)
Total 2018 Direct Grantee Support: $5.0 billion (3)
Total 2017 Direct Grantee Support: $4.7 billion (3)
Foundation Trust Endowment: $46.8 billion (4)

(1) As of December 31, 2018. Financial figures are rounded to the nearest hundred million.
(2) Includes grant payments made by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and previous foundations of the Gates family (William H. Gates Foundation, Gates Library Foundation, and Gates Learning Foundation) from 1994 onward.
(3) Includes grant payments and direct charitable contracts, but not Program Related Investments.
(4) Annually, the foundation receives an installment of the gift pledged by Warren Buffett as outlined in his July 2006 letter to Bill and Melinda. The endowment balance includes these donations, which were received as follows:

  • August 24, 2006: $1.6 billion
  • July 11, 2007: $1.8 billion
  • July 1, 2008: $1.8 billion
  • July 1, 2009: $1.3 billion
  • July 1, 2010: $1.6 billion
  • July 7, 2011: $1.5 billion
  • July 6, 2012: $1.5 billion
  • July 8, 2013: $2.0 billion
  • July 14, 2014: $2.1 billion
  • July 6, 2015: $2.2 billion
  • July 13, 2016: $2.2 billion
  • July 17, 2017: $2.4 billion
  • July 16, 2018: $2.6 billion

Geographic Reach

The foundation supports grantees in 50 states and the District of Columbia. Internationally, we support work in 138 countries.