In his annual letter, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman has called for philanthropists to give more and give now to meet the unprecedented challenges nations across the globe face in combatting poverty, eradicating disease, and fighting inequality.
In the years since the Covid-19 pandemic struck, the world has seen a backslide in progress at a time when low-income countries have fewer resources to meet basic human needs. And yet, there is a robust pipeline of health and technological innovations and proven solutions that could be scaled up or catalysed with the advent of additional philanthropic dollars.
“Philanthropy can take risks and help fill gaps that would otherwise be overlooked or underfunded,” Suzman writes. “We have the opportunity to realize the full potential of philanthropy at the moment when the world needs it most.”
According to Forbes, the net worth of the world’s 2 640 billionaires is at least $12,2-trillion.
Suzman points out that with just $1-billion in additional giving – a tiny fraction of that amount – philanthropists could fund a set of high-impact, low-cost interventions that could save the lives of 2-million additional mothers and babies by 2030.
With $4-billion, they could help half a billion smallholder farmers become more climate resilient and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture by 1 gigaton a year by 2030.
With a little more than $7-billion, they could get vaccines to 300-million people, preventing at least 7-million deaths.
This immense potential to respond to compounding global crises and accelerate progress is why the Gates Foundation is stepping up its funding support. Earlier this month, the Gates Foundation’s board of trustees approved a 2024 budget of $8,6-billion – the largest ever – which the foundation will use to fund innovative ways to save and improve lives.
In 2022, the foundation announced its intent to increase its annual payout to $9-billion by 2026, and it is committed to spending down its endowment within 20 years of its founders’ deaths to focus on solving urgent problems now and helping set up sustainable systems for the future.
Suzman’s letter also highlights the growth and evolution of philanthropy globally, citing organisations such as the African Philanthropy Forum that is helping African donors work together to drive inclusive, sustainable development across the continent and foundations based in countries like India, China, and Singapore are taking on more local and global problems.
“The philanthropic ecosystem looks different than it did when I started doing this work over 15 years ago, and that’s a good thing,” he writes. “Donors around the world are bringing bold vision and lived experience to complex challenges.”
Small donations made by millions of people worldwide are also having an enormous impact. Suzman underscores that nearly half the world’s countries participate in Giving Tuesday, a movement that has facilitated more than $13-billion in donations since 2012.
As Suzman writes, “Today’s world has no shortage of complex problems to be tackled or innovators ready to take them on. But without generous investment and persistent support, great ideas remain just that: ideas. If more people step up their commitments and focus their resources on the areas of greatest need, those ideas can translate to impact.”