Many people know Bill Gates as the most generous person in the world. His net worth is over $66 billion, and he’s already given away $28 billion of that. Number one on the Forbes 400 list, Gates is the richest person in the United Stats and is in the number five spot for most powerful people in the world.
A dropout of Harvard University, Gates co-founded his company, Microsoft, with Paul Allen in 1976. Microsoft went on to become the world’s largest personal computer software company. Though he continues to sell his shares of Microsoft, Bill Gates is still the largest holder with 6.4% of the company’s stock. It makes up just one-fifth of his total wealth.
Gates founded the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation with his wife in 2000, turning his interests toward philanthropy. He is involved with Microsoft as only a part-time, non-executive chairman. The Foundation is currently leading the research for finding a malaria vaccine that can be released by 2015—which would save millions of lives. Gates has also founded the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI), which “has raised $4.3 billion in pledges from various countries to provide life-saving vaccines” for a variety of deadly diseases in developing countries.
Most recently, Gates, along with his friend Warren Buffet, formed The Giving Pledge, which encourages the very wealthy to promise to give away at least half their wealth either during life or after death. But he urges everyone—not just billionaires—to help those in need.
“You do not need to be the chair of a large foundation to have an impact on the world,” he says in The Power of Catalytic Philanthropy. “Risk takers need backers. Good ideas need evangelists. Forgotten communities need advocates. And whether your chief resource is volunteer time or hard-earned dollars, for a relatively small investment catalytic philanthropy can make a big impact. For me it’s proven the best job in the world, as thrilling and humbling as anything I’ve ever done.”