The massive financial holdings of the foundation receive worldwide attention. As of September 30, 2012, the foundation has an endowment of $36.2 billion. Most of the foundations wealth is divided among three causes that are important to the Gates family. The two global causes that foundation supports in over 100 countries are global health and global economic development. In the United States, the foundation concentraits on supporting programs related to education (Gates Foundation, 2012). The intent of this paper is to justify why the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a worthwhile cause to continue to receive monetary contributions.
It is important to note that Warren Buffet placed three conditions on his generous gift to the foundation. Although it is a family foundation, Buffet has become, in a sense, a family member. His donation was not a gift, but a matching gift which is worth about $1.5 billion. To receive all of the gift over the period of several years, Bill and Melinda Gates continue to be active in the foundation’s administration, the foundation must qualify as a charity according to the Internal Revenue code 501 (c) (3), and the foundation must give away the amount of Buffet’s previous year’s gift plus an additional 5% of the foundation’s overall assets (Moody, Knap, & Corra, 2011).
The foundation gives away about $800 million a year under its global health program. This is almost as much as the combined 193 nations that make-up the United Nations World Health Organization has in their annual budget. The impact that the foundation has made in global health has been tremendous. One of the key aspects of the program is the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. Much of this effort takes place in Africa. Vaccines, primarily for children, are another target area of the foundation. The primary focus has been trying to eradicate polio and tuberculosis, but other immunizations are given as well. At the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington the foundation also provided $30 million to begin a new Department of Global Health specifically to assist the foundation with its goal of improving health conditions around the world (Gates, 2011). Another incentive the foundation has to improve global health is to improve sanitation worldwide. There is an ongoing competition to create a toilet that can be used in impoverished areas. Caltech won of the first round of the competition by creating a solar-powered restroom. The competition is ongoing to see what new inventions are created (Gates Foundation, 2012).
Another area where the foundation focuses its time, energy, and finances is in global development. The concept is to be able to teach families away to support themselves within a couple of years of intervention. The goal is to help these families so they will no longer need charity, but rather that they will become self-sufficient. One way this is done is by giving small loans to individuals to start a business or by the basic farm equipment needed for them to be able to support themselves the first year and afterwards be able to sell goods for profit in addition to being self-sufficient. In slightly more developed countries, the money might be used for situations such as providing health care for family that leaves a job where they are earning poverty wages to begin their own business until their business creates enough income to support the family and purchase health insurance (Gates, 2012).
Other aspects of the global development program include agricultural development such as initiatives to increase rice production and teach farmers how to increase their rice yield. Lastly there are millions of people throughout the world that do not have access to clean water. It is the goal of the foundation to find ways to ensure that every person has access to clean and safe water as well as water for sanitation and basic hygiene purposes (Gates Foundation, 2012).
Under its education initiative, the foundation serves libraries, schools, colleges, universities, and provides various scholarships. Since Bill Gates made his fortune developing technology, it is only fitting that his foundation tries to ensure that all libraries have serviceable computers and Internet access to serve all residents within their communities. A general goal for education through the foundation is a reduction in class sizes and to divide large schools into a school-within-a-school model as both of these have been demonstrated to improve student performance. The donations to colleges and universities have been widespread, generous, and ongoing and are usually geared towards the specific needs of the institution. The scholarship opportunities are varied, multiple, and generous (Sinclair, 2010).
Another deserving credit to the Gates Foundation is the way it conducts its evaluation and research. Bill and Melinda Gates select programs based on their personal preferences. Before it invests in a project, the foundation gathers information from the stakeholders of the project for benchmark purposes. The foundation then employees external evaluators to investigate the programs and determine what the foundation's involvement should be and how the people that will be affected can best be served. These evaluations are considered to be a process offering comparative data so that informed decisions are made in the activities and programs that are going to be influence and changed (Guo & McQueen, 2010).
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also has received the endorsement of the Better Business Bureau. The endorsement is important because many people will check with the Better Business Bureau before donating to an organization to ensure that it is credible. It is the job of the Better Business Bureau to verify the standings of companies such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and ensure that the work they are doing is what they are claiming to do. This enhances public confidence and helps to increase donations from the public. In order to receive this endorsement the foundation demonstrated to the Better Business Bureau that it spends its money on vital development initiatives and is accountable for the money that it spends. This is one reason that the foundation insists on remaining transparent to the public about their initiatives as well as their budget. The Better Business Bureau has also verified that the foundation has complied with all applicable local, state, and federal laws (Gates Foundation, 2012). The people in the United States have proven themselves to be the most generous people the world when it comes to charitable giving. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has demonstrated its commitment to domestic education and worldwide in the areas of health and economics. By continuing to raise public awareness, the goals of the foundation can continue to grow. Perhaps more people, as they become more aware of work that this charity does and the resources it provides, will be willing to donate their financial resources to help the foundation reach even more of its goals (Payton, 2008).
Critics of the foundation state that there is too much money within this one organization. It is only a matter of time until corruption erupts within the charity. One day, it is feared, the foundation will no longer be transparent and funds will begin to be used in ways that are inappropriate. The foundation is also criticized that employees of the foundation will benefit from huge salaries and benefits that are too generous. Since the foundation exposes all of its projects initially to outside evaluators, it tries to limit any unjust practices. As of now, it has remained completely transparent and has no intention of changing this practice. Perhaps this foundation will never be corrupt. It warrants watching, but warrants trust as well.
Analysis of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has demonstrated through its transparency that is worthy of support from public and private sources. Global development is essential as people are taught how to support themselves. These people want to be self-reliant, but for various reasons they are unable to do so without assistance. The global health program will save tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of lives by providing what we assume our basic necessities and United States. The domestic education program will help tomorrow's future of our country learn in the classrooms of today on every level of our educational system (Gates, 2011).
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