Originally created 01/25/00

Gates gift boosts foundation to world's largest



SEATTLE -- Bill and Melinda Gates have donated another $5 billion to their foundation, boosting its endowment to about $21.8 billion and making it the world's richest foundation.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation surpassed London's Wellcome Trust with the latest gift from the Microsoft Corp. founder and his wife, the Chronicle of Philanthropy confirmed Monday.

Wellcome Trust now has $21.4 billion based on Monday's exchange rate, a Chronicle spokesman said.

Chronicle editor Stacy Palmer said the No. 1 ranking means the Gates Foundation will be considered the pacesetter for charitable giving.

"When anybody wants to know the current thinking in philanthropy they will look to the Gates Foundation," she said. "This really reinforces their role and their importance."

The $5 billion gift of Microsoft stock was confirmed Monday by foundation spokesman Trevor Neilson.

The foundation focuses its giving on health and education. Its most recent gifts were $750 million to the Global Fund for Children's Vaccines and the $1 billion Gates Millennium Scholars Program for minority students, both announced last year.

The Wellcome trust, founded in 1936 in the will of pharmaceutical magnate Sir Henry Wellcome of Britain, gains much of its current wealth from a stake in Glaxo Wellcome.