Gates donates $US3.3 billion to charity

Microsoft Chairman and CEO Bill Gates has made a $US3.345 billion endowment to help line the pockets of two of his charity foundations, a spokeswoman for Gates' philanthropy group said last Friday.

Gates made an endowment of $2.23 billion to the William H. Gates Foundation and another of $1.115 billion to the Gates Learning Foundation, formerly the Gates Library Foundation, said Rose Berg, a spokeswoman with Gates Family Philanthropy.

The William H. Gates Foundation helps pay for initiatives in the areas of higher education, world health and population, as well as providing funding for community schemes in the Seattle, Washington, area where Microsoft is based.

The Learning Foundation provides money for computers, Internet access and training for libraries in low-income areas. The fund was renamed last week to reflect a new mandate to provide funding for libraries around the world, Berg said. As The Gates Library Foundation the fund had focused on the U.S. and Canada, she said.

"Bill and (his wife) Melinda have been very fortunate and very lucky to have access to these resources. ... They have said repeatedly that they feel a great sense of responsibility and that they plan to give it all back, and this is evidence that they are doing that," Berg said.

"They will begin to do this more and more often," she added.

The donation was first reported by online news magazine Fortune.com. The foundation organisations don't typically announce when a donation is made, Berg said. Last year, on his birthday, Gates donated a billion [B] dollars to the William H. Gates Foundation, something that went virtually unreported, she said.

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