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Posts Tagged ‘Bill Gates’

Hats off to Jean Case, who, like Bill Gates, has come forward to share mistakes made and lessons learned in her recent blog. As two of the biggest names in philanthropy, one could argue that it is easy for them to make admissions of error. After all, who is going to fire them? But their very stature makes then easy targets, and their assets mean that their bets matter.

Philanthropists often prefer anonymity and their giving can be quite personal. But the challenges strategic philanthropists are trying to solve are public ones. Their grantees are expected to be transparent and these foundation leaders are modeling that behavior. Efforts like the Foundation Center’s Glasspockets initiative can help, but even more so can the words of those philanthropists who dare to—even feel obliged to—share their experiences.

If we all took a page from the book of Bill Gates and Jean Case—and the many Global Philanthropy Forum members who eagerly share errors made—we can make mistakes matter. Each offers a teaching opportunity. A commitment to learning is a distinguishing feature of strategic philanthropy; tales of failure can be the source of its future success.

While acknowledging that crowing about flops remains rare in any sector, let’s celebrate and emulate those who share triumphs and failures.

—Jane Wales

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Bill Gates, Co-Chair and Trustee of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, released a 20 page letter today pledging that though his foundation’s endowment fell by 20% in 2008, they will increase their spending to $3.8 billion in 2009 – up $0.5 billion from last year – holding true to the speech he gave in Washington last month.  (See our December 4th post) In the letter, Gates assesses the successes and challenges of their recent work, and discusses the role for foundations in the current economic climate. Read the full letter here, or an article on its significance in today’s Wall Street Journal.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a valued partner of our Global Philanthropy Forum, and we applaud their commitment to the foundation’s mission in the midst of these troubled times.

Update:  In a column this week, NY Times journalist Nic Kirstof posted a video of his interview with Bill Gates about aid to developing countries in the current economic climate.  Kristof comes away saying, “… if Mr. Gates manages to accomplish as much in the world of vaccines, health and food production as he thinks he can, then the consequences will be staggering. Squared.”

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Philanthropist and billionaire Bill Gates spoke in Washington DC yesterday encouraging President-Elect Obama to increase spending. Even in the midst of this financial crisis, Gates urged us not to lose sight of our future and not to sacrifice our long-term goals for short-term gain. He encouraged Obama to follow through on his campaign commitment to double U.S. foreign aid to $50 billion in his first year.

An article covering the speech in today’s Washington Post paints Gates as a new philanthropist: someone who “is pioneering a new approach to philanthropy, applying the risk-taking and results-based philosophy of an entrepreneur to solving some of the world’s most chronic problems.” This is the very same approach applied by members of our Global Philanthropy Forum – a community of donors and social investors that seek to inform, enable, and enhance the strategic nature of their giving and social investing. It’s good to see major media venues talking about this ‘new philanthropy’, and we hope it helps elevate broader understanding of what it means to be strategic in one’s giving.

Watch Gates’ speech here. And read the Global Philanthropy Forum online debate on new philanthropy, or ‘philanthrocapitalism‘ – the practice of applying business metrics to philanthropy – here.

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