First item on the agenda: fixing the world
Richest philanthropists join forces to help charities struggling through recession
Friday 22 May 2009
There are the great, and there are the good, and then there are those who are both – and in a plush Manhattan residence overlooking the East River earlier this month, America's greatest philanthropists assembled for a closed-doors meeting to discuss how best to tackle some of the world's most pressing problems, from disease to education to poverty reduction.
This first Philanthropists Summit was put together discreetly by the Microsoft founder, Bill Gates, and the investment guru Warren Buffett, the world's wealthiest and second-wealthiest men respectively. And the list of attendees reads like a page from the Forbes magazine Rich List.
The event comes at a time of great difficulty for many charities, whose rich donors have seen much of their wealth evaporate with the credit crisis and whose own endowments have suffered big losses.
Even the existence of the meeting was kept quiet and details have only been seeping out over the past few days, igniting the blogosphere with conspiracy theories. What could the likes of Oprah Winfrey, the New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the currency speculator George Soros and the media mogul Ted Turner be cooking up between them?
The meeting was held on 5 May at the private residence of the president of Rockefeller University, whose trustee, David Rockefeller, scion of the oil dynasty, helped sort out the venue. Between them, the attendees are worth more than $120bn (£76bn) and have donated more than $72bn to charity since 1996.
Mr Gates heads the world's richest and most powerful philanthropic foundation, named after himself and his wife, Melinda. In 2006, his friend and bridge partner Mr Buffett said he would hand most of his own fortune to the Gates Foundation to give away. Additional collaborations such as this were most likely on the informal agenda at the 5 May meeting, along with ways to encourage other members of the elite billionaires club to join the great global wealth giveaway.
"It wasn't secret," said Patty Stonesifer, the former chief executive of the Gates Foundation, who attended the meeting. "Bill and Warren hoped to do this occasionally. They sent out an invite and people came."
In their letter of invitation, Messrs Gates, Buffett and Rockefeller cited the worldwide recession and an urgent need to plan for the future. They said they wanted to hear the views of a broad range of major figures in the fields of finance and philanthropy.
As details of the meeting emerged on the blog Irish Central earlier this week, Mr Bloomberg – whose $16bn fortune is founded on a financial news business that bears his name – was asked about the event. He characterised it as a simple and informal gathering of friends. "All my friends are philanthropic," he said, "or they probably wouldn't be my friends".
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
- 1 Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
- 2 Loom bands: Bids for dress made from colourful rubber pass £170,000 on eBay
- 3 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 4 L'Oreal cuts ties with Belgium supporter Axelle Despiegelaere after hunting trip photographs
- 5 The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week
Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
Loom bands: Bids for dress made from colourful rubber pass £170,000 on eBay
Supermoon 2014: When and why will the moon look bigger and brighter this summer?
Tommy Ramone dies: Last surviving founder and drummer seminal punk band The Ramones dies aged 62
Gaza-Israel conflict: The terrible price Palestinian children are paying for Israel’s war with Hamas
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
War is war: Why I stand with Israel
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...
£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...
£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...
£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...