Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bill Gates' New Direction

I just read a fascinating article in Macleans about Bill Gates. He has now given up most of his time at Microsoft and instead is going to be devoting his life toward charitable causes.

Running my own not-for-profit, I particularly admired one key section:

The foundation receives roughly 6,000 requests each year, and the founders personally evaluate applications seeking more than $40 million. "This is really the antithesis of chequebook philanthropy," Chernow says. "They're not just giving money, they're involved."

So involved, in fact, that the foundation has developed a reputation as a demanding benefactor, insisting on firm targets and conducting extensive audits to ensure objectives are not only met, but rigorously tracked and measured. To Gates this is about bringing professionalism and accountability to charity work, but it has created controversy.

One of the foundation's earliest beneficiaries was the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (known as GAVI). Gates gave $750 million over five years to vaccinate children against things like polio, measles and tuberculosis. But when the program was getting off the ground, several countries were shocked to find their applications were rejected because they failed to provide enough detail or plans for oversight. Others were surprised when GAVI auditors later showed up to review paperwork verifying exactly when and where vaccinations had taken place. Those who were sloppy with the records faced the prospect of being suspended from the program.

There were plenty who said GAVI was too stringent, but Gates made no apologies and eventually recipient nations complied.

I LOVE this! I've met way too many people in the public and charitable sectors who deem themselves to be halo-wearing saints beyond reproach. They'll take your money but don't dare ask them how the funds are spent or whether things are run in an efficient & effective manner. Be it taxes or donations, I've become convinced that many in these organizations have convinced themselves that they're doing you a favour by allowing you to feel good about giving.

It's absolutely no wonder to me why so many people in the world are still hungry and living in squalid conditions. If all governments and charities were run like businesses then there'd be a lot less problems the world over. I deeply believe that!


Helena said...

Hello, I'm a fellow Vancouverite, and am really happy to see that GAVI is getting more media and attention. I think we do great work (no bias there... I work for GAVI). :)


PelaLusa said...

Hey Helena, as long as you're accountable for the money used to support your work then I deeply applaud you!