Sunday, August 5, 2007

The gates of hell

"The Gates Foundation [1], the world’s largest, richest philanthropic organisation founded by Bill and Melinda Gates in 2000, and doubled in size by Warren Bufflett in 2006, is “dedicated to bringing innovations in health and learning to the global community” [2] in order to enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty. It is indeed famous for giving hundreds of millions to good causes.

But an investigative report published in the LA Times at the beginning of 2007 found that the Gates Foundation “reaps vast financial gains every year from investments that contravene its good works” [3]. These investments go to companies responsible for causing the problems the Foundation tries to solve."

I blogged on this topic this earlier, but a reminder is always useful, especially when we are trying to raise funds from the Gates foundation. This article is very fully referenced.


Anonymous said...

Rami: I can't read the LA Times article, so I'll just go off on the article you posted. I don't understand the problem with financial gains if they are reinvested into the Foundation, since that's the purpose of having an endowment anyway, no? And given the importance of managing a foundation's financial assets, often top-notch Wall Street investment officers (paid even higher salaries than the foundation presidents) are recruited for the job. Yet still, there are some heavy regulations on the U.S. philanthropic sector, and which cover the minimum % that needs to spent from a foundation's endowment into its programs vs. its administrative costs, as well as some relatively tight regulations under the relevant section of the tax code (which I think is a particular section akin to 501(c)3).

Rami Zurayk said...

The article is about investments that foster problems that the foundation is supposed to be addressing. Here's another excerpt:

"For example, while children in the poorest countries like Nigeria are benefiting from a vaccination drive supported by the Foundation, they suffer serious respiratory diseases blamed on fumes and soot spewing from flares of the oil plants whose investors include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation."

It raises the issue of where do we invest our endowments and is our investment ethical.