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Our Investment Philosophy

We're frequently asked about our approach to the way the foundation's endowment is invested. It's an important question, and we want to explain our thinking.

As a foundation, our goal is to ensure that all people no matter where they live have the chance to live a healthy, productive life. We're focused on using grantmaking and advocacy to help solve complex, entrenched problems that affect billions of people, including the AIDS and malaria epidemics, extreme poverty, and the poor state of American high schools.

Businesses play a crucial role in helping to solve these problems, and we believe we can have the most impact on businesses by encouraging them directly to dedicate expertise and money to these problems. We publicly praise companies that are doing good work and try to persuade others to step up. Sometimes we make grants to for-profit companies to give them incentives to join the work. (Read more about our work with for-profit entities.)

We spend a great deal of time working with the private sector and have found such collaboration to be very powerful. 

Bill and Melinda do guide the managers of the foundation's endowment in voting proxies consistent with the principles of good governance and good management. When instructing the investment managers, Bill and Melinda also consider other issues beyond corporate profits, including the values that drive the foundation's work. They have defined areas in which the endowment will not invest, such as companies whose profit model is centrally tied to corporate activity that they find egregious. This is why the endowment does not invest in tobacco stocks.

Bill and Melinda regularly re-assess the endowment's holdings. On the issue of investments in Sudan, for instance, Bill and Melinda have directed the investment team to be consistent with the approach taken by the endowment managers for Harvard, Yale, and Stanford universities. The foundation trust no longer has any holdings in the companies identified by these institutions in their investment policy statements on Sudan.

In November, we post each year's tax filing , which contains a list of all the endowments investments, and we publish an annual report in the spring.

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