What will happen to Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation after their divorce? Internet says 'saw them as a team'
Bill and Melinda Gates revealed on Monday, May 3, that their 27-year marriage has come to an end. Shocking the world with their news, the couple in a joint statement posted on Twitter stated: “After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage. Over the last 27 years, we have raised three incredible children and built a foundation that works all over the world to enable all people to lead healthy, productive lives.”
The Gateses are America’s most famous billionaire philanthropists and are known for their power to secure foreign government grants, lobby for policy change and inspiring other billionaires to donate their money to charity. The couple in 2000 founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a private philanthropic organization that funds research and advocacy work across the globe. The charity organization is known to have supported issues like global health especially vaccinations, development and education, as well as combating climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic. With the announcement of their split, the future of their philanthropic works through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation remains in question.
What will happen to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation?
According to its financial statements, the Gates Foundation has almost $50 billion in assets and has been the world's largest private philanthropic organisation for the past 20 years. During the years 2018 and 2019, it distributed around $5 billion in grants. The news of their separating sent shockwaves through the philanthropic community, where the foundation wields significant power.
“Bill and Melinda Gates really pioneered a new form of large-scale philanthropy,” David Callahan, founder, and editor of Inside Philanthropy, a digital site that covers the world of philanthropy and fundraising, to NBC news. “They are probably the most consequential figures in philanthropy in recent history, if not ever.”
According to Vox, a Gates Foundation spokesperson said that the philanthropy was not expecting any changes to their work. Both Bill and Melinda will remain co-chairs and trustees of the foundation in their name, the spokesman said. “They will continue to work together to shape and approve foundation strategies, advocate for the foundation’s issues, and set the organization’s overall direction,” the foundation spokesman said.
Bill Gates, who co-founded Microsoft in 1975 and served as its CEO until 2000, stepped down from the company's board of directors last year and has since devoted his time to philanthropy. Melinda was also an employee at Microsoft and has been quite involved at their foundation for years; she also has her own interest in women’s issues that she coordinates through a separate outfit called Pivotal Ventures.
'A lot of money waiting in the wings'
Bill still owns about 1.3 percent of Microsoft's stock. According to Forbes, he has a net worth of about $130 billion, making him the world's fourth-richest individual. It's unclear, however, how the properties would be divided during the divorce.
The pair said they will continue to work together in the philanthropic effort in a statement announcing their separation. The question is whether they will go on to establish their own philanthropic activities outside of the foundation they co-founded. “There’s a lot of money waiting in the wings,” Callahan said to NBC, depending on whether there was a prenuptial agreement and what the terms were. “Were Melinda to get some portion of that money it would be enough to fund her as a separate philanthropist at a large scale.”
'Guess the Foundation wasn’t so strong after all'
As news of the divorce broke out, social media was in an uproar and took to Twitter to share their views. "While you might want to respect their personal privacy, and should, this is a still a big deal for all their extensive and impactful joint philanthropy," said another. "I guess the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation wasn’t so strong after all," a third quipped.
"She's no victim/here. They will continue to run the empire of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation together," a Twitter user said. Calling out all those wishing ill on the couple who just announced a sad development in their lives, one social media user said: "Sorry, Twitterverse. Snark if you will, I like all the good they have done with their money. No kind person wishes heartache for anyone else and so I am sorry they are splitting up, and hope it has no impact on all the great work done by their foundation." Another added: "It is sad. I saw them as a team, not only in philanthropy but in life. Perhaps an illusion on my part. Good luck to them both."
While you might want to respect their personal privacy, and should, this is a still a big deal for all their extensive and impactful joint philanthropy. https://t.co/LLhuk6t2cA— Kara Swisher (@karaswisher) May 3, 2021
She's no victim/here. They will continue to run the empire of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation together.— Abolitionist (@womenbaseball1) May 4, 2021
Sorry, Twitterverse. Snark if you will, I like all the good they have done with their money. No kind person wishes heartache for anyone else and so I am sorry they are splitting up, and hope it has no impact on all the great work done by their foundation.— mlg57 (@mlg5420) May 4, 2021
It is sad. I saw them as a team, not only in philanthropy but in life. Perhaps an illusion on my part. Good luck to them both.— Uncle Krunk, aka Joe (@fish_tar) May 3, 2021