There’s a ton of misinformation going around about the Gates’ divorce and what it means for their foundation’s grantees.

The Gates don’t own the foundation.

It’s a nonprofit charitable trust, and it’s irrevocable, which means that once they donate money to it, the funds have to be given to charity and they can’t take it back out again for their own personal use.

Likewise, while they are benefactors and board members of the foundation, they can’t simply cease funding the initiatives and organizations they’ve given grants to.

Grants are legal contracts between grantees and the foundation as a corporation, not with the Gates as a couple. The divorce will have no impact on these grants.

The only reason the divorce might impact the foundation is if one of the Gates decided to step away as a board member, which would likely change its direction.

That’s not happening, per their announcement.

Regardless, the foundation won’t exist in perpetuity - it’s set up to be “sunset,” which means that all assets must be spent down within 20 years of Bill and Melinda’s deaths.

The Gates Foundation is an enormously impactful institution in society, and its benefactors’ actions matter - especially when their power and influence is matters of public debate.

But their divorce will not upend the entire ecosystem of nonprofits and philanthropy.


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