Bill Gates, the richest man in the world, has just made his biggest contribution to charity since the year 2000. According to a recent U.S. Securities & Exchange filing, Gates gave 64 million Microsoft shares (the equivalent of $4.6 billion) to an undisclosed recipient.
Although the beneficiary has not been named, it is expected that the donation will go the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—a charitable organization that he and his wife founded in 2000 to improve global healthcare and reduce poverty. The foundation has not yet responded to requests for comment.
While $4.6 billion may sound like a lot of money, The Guardian reports that the shares donated only represent about 5% of Gates’ $90 billion fortune. But it doesn’t come without a cost. Gates’ latest act of generosity has reduced his stake in Microsoft to just 1.3%. In 1996, Gates owned 24% of Microsoft.
One of his biggest donations came in 1999, when he gifted $16 billion worth of Microsoft shares. The following year, he gave an additional $5.1 billion. To this day, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation remains the world’s largest private charity.
Also of note: Gates’ recent $4.6 billion donation is a record-setter. As The Guardian points out, it is the biggest charitable contribution made this year, topping a $3.2 billion donation from Warren Buffett last month.
In 2010, Bill and Melinda Gates teamed up with Buffett to create the Giving Pledge—a vow to donate at least 50 percent of their wealth to charity. More than 170 of the world’s wealthiest people have since taken the pledge, including Mark Zuckerberg, Michael Bloomberg, and George Lucas.
“I realized ten years ago that my wealth has to go back to society,” Bill Gates once said. “A fortune, the size of which is hard to imagine, is best not passed on to one’s children. It’s not constructive for them.”
Bill and Melinda Gates have been very public about the fact that they will not be leaving all of their wealth to their children. The couple would rather their children make their own way in the world so that they will remain humble.