Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (B&MGF or the Gates Foundation) is one of the largest private foundations in the world, founded by Bill and Melinda Gates. It is "driven by the interests and passions of the Gates family." The primary aims of the foundation are, globally, to enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty, and in America, to expand educational opportunities and access to information technology. The foundation, based in Seattle, Washington, is controlled by its three trustees: Bill Gates, Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett. Other principal officers include Co-Chair William Hery Gates, Sr. and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Raikes.
It had an endowment of US$38.3 billion as of 30 June 2013. The scale of the foundation and the way it seeks to apply business techniques to giving makes it one of the leaders in the philanthrocapitalism revolution in global philanthropy, though the foundation itself notes that the philanthropic role has limitations.
Bill Gates began to appreciate the expectations others had of him when public opinion mounted suggesting that he could give more of his wealth to charity. Bill Gates studied the work of Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller, and in 1994 sold some of his Microsoft stock to create the William H. Gates Foundation. In 2000, Bill Gates and his wife combined three family foundations into one to create the charitable Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is the largest transparently operated charitable foundation in the world. The foundation allows benefactors access to information regarding how its money is being spent, unlike other major charitable organizations such as the Wellcome Trust. The generosity and extensive philanthropy of David Rockefeller has been credited as a major influence. Bill Gates and his father met with Rockefeller several times, and modeled their giving in part on the Rockefeller family's philanthropic focus, namely those global problems that are ignored by governments and other organizations. As of 2007, Bill and Melinda Gates were the second-most generous philanthropists in America, having given over $28 billion to charity; the couple plan to eventually donate 95% of their wealth to charity.
Bill Gates's wife urged people to learn a lesson from the philanthropic efforts of the Salwen family, which had sold its home and given away half of its value, as detailed in The Power of Half. Bill Gates and his wife invited Joan Salwen to Seattle to speak about what the family had done, and on December 9, 2010, Gates, investor Warren Buffett, and Mark Zuckerberg signed a promise they called the "Gates-Buffet Giving Pledge", in which they promised to donate to charity at least half of their wealth over the course of time.