How Bill Gates' Net Worth Will Be Impacted by $20B Donation

The wealth of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates could drop by around a sixth after he announced he would make a $20 billion donation to his philanthropic fund.

Gates said he would make the donation to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the charitable fund he and his ex-wife, Melinda French Gates, founded in 2000, as he reiterated his ambition to give all his wealth away. Gates and his ex-wife both previously pledged to donate most of their wealth to the foundation which aims to improve global health, gender equality and education.

"I will move down and eventually off the list of the world's richest people," he wrote in a blog post on Wednesday in which he described giving the money as "not a sacrifice at all."

Currently the fourth wealthiest person in the world, his latest donation could see his ranking drop to seventh. According to Forbes, Gates has an estimated wealth of $129 billion which is mostly tied up in Microsoft shares. Bloomberg's Billionaire Index lists his worth as less, at $114 billion.

Bill Gates
Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, pledged to give $20 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which will affect his net worth. Above, Gates is pictured in Sun Valley, Idaho on July 8, 2022. Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Gates wrote in his blog post that he had "an obligation to return my resources to society in ways that have the greatest impact for improving lives" as he outlined how his donation would help the foundation meet its aim to spend more than $9 billion per year by 2026.

This is an increase from the approximately $6 billion the foundation spent per year before the COVID-19 pandemic began. During the pandemic, it spent an additional $1.5 billion to help with the COVID response, while $500 million has been committed but has not yet been disbursed.

The $20 billion donation Gates announced brings the foundation's endowment to about $70 billion. Last month, longtime foundation board member Warren Buffett, currently the fifth richest person in the world, gave an annual gift of $3.1 billion. Buffett has also pledged to give most of his wealth away.

Gates described bleak times ahead, calling the pandemic one of the world's "biggest setbacks in history" due to the millions of global deaths it caused and the rise in childhood deaths due to disruptions to health systems.

He said the pandemic, rising inflation, climate change and the Russia-Ukraine war have created a unique set of circumstances requiring a more prominent humanitarian response.

"At this moment of great need and opportunity, this spending will allow us to accelerate progress by investing more deeply in the areas where we are already working," he said.

The second largest charitable foundation in the world, it is the largest private donor to the World Health Organization, and although its work has been praised, some have raised concerns about a private endeavor having such great influence.