Benjamin Soskis, a senior research associate for the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute, which receives funding from the foundation, said, “The Gates Foundation is the most important philanthropic institution in the world, and this is another sign that there likely will be major transformations in how it’s governed.”
The foundation gives grants in areas ranging from gender equality to global development. It has funded efforts to control malaria and to eradicate polio and has spent more than $1.8 billion on its response to the pandemic, including on testing, treatment and vaccines.
Even before the divorce announcement, the death of William H. Gates Sr., Bill’s father, last year signaled a changing of the guard at the private foundation, the nation’s largest. The elder Mr. Gates was a co-chair of the foundation, along with Mr. Gates and Ms. French Gates. On Wednesday, Mr. Buffett, who will turn 91 in August, said that he knew he had “moved past the fourth quarter into overtime” in life.
Mr. Suzman thanked Mr. Buffett for his philanthropy, writing in a blog post, “The impact of his prodigious generosity is hard to quantify.”
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The Gateses also offered praise for Mr. Buffett. “The value of Warren’s gift goes beyond anything that can be measured,” Mr. Gates said in a statement, while Ms. French Gates thanked her fellow billionaire for his “unwavering belief that everyone deserves to live a healthy, fulfilling life.”
The foundation’s reputation for global philanthropy has been overshadowed lately by reports of Mr. Gates’s questionable conduct in work-related settings. The New York Times has reported that on at least a few occasions, Mr. Gates pursued women who worked for him at Microsoft and at the foundation, according to people with direct knowledge of his overtures.
In 2019, Microsoft’s board, on which Mr. Gates sat, opened an inquiry into one of those cases after being notified that he had “sought to initiate an intimate relationship with a company employee in the year 2000,” a Microsoft spokesman said. The board hired a law firm to investigate.