Melinda French Gates may be shifting her approach to how she gives away her vast wealth following her high-profile divorce last year from Microsoft founder Bill Gates.
French Gates is said to have decided not to give the bulk of her estimated $11.4 billion fortune to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter. Instead, French Gates is expected to donate to other charitable endeavors, according to the report, though she may also continue to give money to the Gates Foundation.
The decision is said to have been made official late last year, according to the report, around the time Gates French published her first solo letter for the Giving Pledge, an effort that encourages the world’s richest people to give away the majority of their wealth.
“Along the way, I cofounded the Giving Pledge in 2010 and committed to giving away the majority of my resources in my lifetime. Today, I’m reaffirming that commitment,” French Gates wrote in the letter. “In the last two decades, I’ve seen that, at its best, philanthropy plays a unique role in driving progress by taking investment risks that others can’t or won’t to explore new ways of solving old problems.”
The Gates Foundation declined to comment beyond French Gates’ remarks in the letter. Pivotal Ventures, an investment firm founded by French Gates, did not respond to a request for comment.
French Gates started Pivotal Ventures in 2015 with a focus on female and family issues in the United States. In 2019, she pledged $1 billion over 10 years through Pivotal to promote gender equality.
Following their divorce, Gates and French Gates announced a two-year trial period during which they would co-manage their foundation. CEO and board member Mark Suzman said this contingency plan was in place “to ensure the continuity of the foundation’s work.” If after this trial period the duo choose to part ways, Gates will remain head and essentially buy French Gates out of the foundation.
The Gates Foundation is one of the world’s largest, with an endowment of more than $50 billion. It has spent the last two decades focused on initiatives including gender equality, global health, poverty alleviation and the global rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine.
Gates and French Gates committed an additional $15 billion to the foundation in July.
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