First item on the agenda: fixing the world

Richest philanthropists join forces to help charities struggling through recession

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".

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
New Articles
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Implementation Consultant (VB,C#, SQL, Java, Eclipse, integ

£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SQL Impl...

SQL Technical Implementation Consultant (Java, BA, Oracle, VBA)

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: SQL Technical ...

Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

Lead C# Developer (.Net, nHibernate, MVC, SQL) Surrey

£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead C# Develo...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering