The donation, combined with longtime board member Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett's $3.1 billion gift last month, brings The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's endowment to approximately $70 billion, making it one of the largest, if not the largest in the world, depending on daily stock valuations. In an essay on the foundation's website, Bill Gates said he hopes "others in positions of great wealth and privilege will step up in this moment too."
The Gates Foundation plans to raise its annual budget by 50% over pre-pandemic levels to about $9 billion by 2026. The foundation hopes the increased spending will improve education, reduce poverty and reinstate the global progress toward ending preventable disease and achieving gender equality that has been halted in recent years.
"Despite huge global setbacks in the past few years, I see incredible heroism and sacrifice all over the world and I believe progress is possible," Bill Gates, the foundation's co-chair, said in a statement.
"But the great crises of our time require all of us to do more... I hope by giving more, we can mitigate some of the suffering people are facing right now and help fulfill the foundation's vision to give every person the chance to live a healthy and productive life."
Gates wrote that polarisation in the United States makes battling global crises tougher.
"The political divide limits our political capacity for dialogue, compromise, and cooperation and thwarts the bold leadership required both domestically and internationally to tackle these threats," he wrote.
"Polarisation is forcing us to look backward and fight again for basic human rights, social justice, and democratic norms."
While achieving gender equality has long been one of the foundation's primary investment areas, in his essay, Bill Gates singled out the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade as "a huge setback for gender equality, for women's health, and for overall human progress."
"The potential for even further regression is scary," he added. "It will put lives at risk for women, people of colour, and anyone living on the margins."