Gates Foundation at cross purposes

The LA Times is running a multi-part investigation into the Gates Foundation. It seems the problems the foundation tries to remediate are made worse by the very investments it makes.

For example, the foundation gave 1.2 million to a nonprofit that counsels those fleeced by predatory lenders, yet has million dollar investments in the stocks of some of those same lenders.

Worse, although they fund millions in vaccinations in Africa, a worthy cause indeed, some of the areas where the vaccinations are given are choked with pollution from oil refineries and the like, which causes illnesses and respiratory problems. Yet the foundation has hundreds of millions of dollars invested in oil companies.

Unlike other foundations, they have an iron wall between investments and philanthropy. They shouldn’t. With a little effort, they could do socially responsible investing, and, as Peter Camejo, Green Party candidate for California governor and money manager shows, you can make more money that way too. But they don’t. This is hardly accidental. So the question is, why?

Pt. 1 Dark cloud over good works of Gates Foundation

Pt. 2. Money clashes with mission


  1. I must admit to questions about this story. So Gates Foundation invests $X in company Y that’s doing evil things. If they were to sell that stock, it would only be in the hands of some other mutual fund or foundation or individual investors. Yes, Gates dumping their stock might drive down the price of company Y’s stock slightly, and temporarily, but it’s hardly going to affect the operations of company Y.

    And, just so we’re clear, I haven’t the slightest love lost for Bill Gates or Microsoft and the way in which Gates amassed all his money. But that’s separate from the question of whether the Gates Foundation not investing in companies doing bad things would have any effect whatsoever.

  2. If enough funds and foundations divest of a stock, then it can have an effect, as in the boycott of South Africa-related stocks at the end of apartheid.

    Perhaps the real point of the articles is that a social responsible foundations ought to be doing socially responsible investing.

Comments are closed.